Economic Review and Indicators
Economic analysis and key indicators related to Alberta’s economy, labour market and various sectors within the province.
Latest Economic Review
Download: complete Weekly Economic Review (September 14, 2018) (PDF, 334 KB)
See below for highlights from the publication.
Housing starts spike
Housing starts: multi-unit starts surge in Edmonton
- Housing starts surged in August as a significant number of multi-unit buildings were started in Edmonton.
- Housing starts jumped 11.0% month-over-month (m/m) to seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 33,270 units.
- The monthly gain was based solely on volatile apartment starts (+42.6% m/m), while the pace of construction of single, semi-detached, and row units slowed.
- Regionally, the gain was concentrated in Edmonton (+36.0% m/m), where multi-units starts surged to the highest level since November 2015.
- Housing starts also improved in Calgary (+7.8% m/m) while they declined in the rest of the province.
- Year-to-date (YTD), province-wide housing starts are down slightly (-2.0%) as gains in apartment starts have been offset by fewer single, semi-detached and row units (Chart 1).
Chart 1: Apartments a source of strength in 2018
Housing starts by type
Residential construction investment: seasonal increase in investment
- Residential investment ticked up in the second quarter reflecting seasonal strength. It rose 5.8% quarter-over-quarter (q/q) to $3.9 billion.
- These gains are typical for the second quarter when construction and resale activity picks up, and were partially offset by a seasonal pullback in renovation spending.
- Despite the seasonal improvement, residential investment declined 2.4% year-over-year (y/y), as renovation spending (-7.8% y/y) was lower than a year ago (Chart 2).
- Investment in new dwellings continued to increase (+1.5% y/y), even though rebuilding in Fort McMurray is winding down.
Chart 2: Residential investment declines with renovation spending
Contribution to year-over-year growth in residential investment
New housing price index: new home prices tick up
- After a pullback earlier in the year, prices of new homes in Alberta ticked up for the second month in a row.
- The new housing price index (NHPI) edged up 0.1% m/m in July as the house-only component increased with higher material costs.
- The increase in the house-only component was more pronounced in Calgary (+0.4% m/m), where prices have rebounded from the declines earlier in the year.
- Despite the monthly rise, the NHPI is nearly unchanged from a year ago as slight lower house-only component prices are partly offset by an increase in land prices.
International travel: solid first half of 2018
- Visits by international residents remained strong in the first half of 2018. The number of non-resident travellers entering Alberta rose 3.2% m/m to 92,545 in June, a 2018 high.
- The increase was driven by a spike in overseas travellers (+16% y/y), which reached the highest level in 16 months.
- Visits by US travellers remained solid, increasing 2.1% m/m in June, while the level held steady from a year ago (-0.6% y/y).
- Through the first half of 2018, international visits via Alberta were up 2.2% over the same period as last year.
Industrial capacity utilization: rates at multi-year highs
- Canadian industrial capacity utilization rate ticked higher to reach the highest rate in 11 years (Chart 3).
- It increased 1.8 percentage points to 85.5% in the second quarter with broad-based gains, led by construction and mining and oil and gas extraction.
- Capacity utilization in oil and gas extraction has been increasing with rising production over the last 2 years and surged 4.4 percentage points to reach an 18-year high.
- In contrast, after reaching a 12-year high in 2017, utilization rates in petroleum and coal manufacturing pulled back in the second quarter as many refineries were under maintenance.
Chart 3: Higher utilization rates in Canada
Canadian seasonally adjusted capacity utilization rate
Capital expenditures, oil and gas extraction industries: energy investment remains muted in 2018
- Capital expenditures (CAPEX) in the Canadian oil and gas extraction industry continued to be restrained.
- Oil and gas CAPEX totalled $9.2 billion in the second quarter of 2018, down 12.4% from the first quarter (Chart 4).
- While the quarterly decline mostly reflects the seasonal slowdown, CAPEX was 6.2% lower than a year ago, as major oil sands projects have been completed.
- Year-to-date, Canadian energy sector CAPEX was down 1.9%.
- Investment has been supported by increasing conventional activity in Alberta, where the average number of rigs drilling through June was up 4.6%, compared to no gain in the rest of the country.
Chart 4: Investment in Canadian oil and gas extraction remain muted
Capital expenditures in the Canada oil and gas industry
Latest Economic Indicators at a Glance
The Weekly Economic Indicators at a Glance document provides a quick reference guide to the most important economic indicators. It features several charts comparing related indicators, as well as cross-provincial comparisons. On the last page, it also features a comprehensive data table of economic and demographic indicators, which is a useful reference guide when you need all the numbers quickly.
Download: Weekly Economic Indicators at a Glance (September 14, 2018) (PDF, 269 KB)
The following file contains data in the tables and charts of the weekly economic publications, and is updated every Friday afternoon.
Download data tables: weekly economic publications (September 14, 2018) (XLSX, 70 KB)
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Archive: Weekly Economic Review
- September 7, 2018: Alberta labour market takes a step forward (PDF, 286 KB)
- August 31, 2018: Conventional oil drilling remains solid (PDF, 235 KB)
- August 24, 2018: Fewer people collecting EI over the past year (PDF, 282 KB)
- August 17, 2018: Manufacturing shipments surge (PDF, 180 KB)
- August 10, 2018: Alberta labour market takes a pause (PDF, 264 KB)
- August 3, 2018: Alberta Activity Index shows broad-based strength (PDF, 170 KB)
- July 27, 2018: Alberta wholesale trade surges (PDF, 297 KB)
- July 20, 2018: Manufacturing shipments jump higher (PDF, 297 KB)
- July 13, 2018: Pullback after May spike in Alberta housing starts (PDF, 139 KB)
- July 6, 2018: Alberta jobs continue to rise (PDF, 150 KB)
- June 29, 2018: Economic activity holds steady (PDF, 602 KB)
- June 22, 2018: Inflation and retail sales up with gasoline prices (PDF, 232 KB)
- June 15, 2018: Population growth accelerates (PDF, 232 KB)
- June 8, 2018: Alberta labour market moves ahead (PDF, 227 KB)
- June 1, 2018: Alberta activity reaches post-recession high (PDF, 239 KB)
- May 25, 2018: New housing investment continues to recover (PDF, 261 KB)
- May 18, 2018: Manufacturing gaining ground (PDF, 228 KB)
- May 11, 2018: Labour market holding steady (PDF, 605 KB)
- May 4, 2018: Alberta growth highest among provinces (PDF, 240 KB)
- April 27, 2018: Alberta earnings glide higher in February (PDF, 170 KB)
- April 20, 2018: Manufacturing remains strong (PDF, 241 KB)
- April 13, 2018: Alberta’s housing starts improve (PDF, 250 KB)
- April 6, 2018: Unemployment rate continues to fall (PDF, 266 KB)
- March 29, 2018: Activity index rising to start 2018 (PDF, 152 KB)
- March 23, 2018: Retail activity hits a new high (PDF, 256 KB)
- March 16, 2018: Alberta’s manufacturing strong start to 2018 (PDF, 154 KB)
- March 9, 2018: Unemployment rate continues to move lower (PDF, 248 KB)
- March 2, 2018: Alberta activity strong in 2017 (PDF, 129 KB)
- February 23, 2018: Earnings recover in 2017 (PDF, 245 KB)
- February 16, 2018: Strong momentum for manufacturing sector (PDF, 153 KB)
- February 9, 2018: Employment eases in January (PDF, 250 KB)
- February 2, 2018: Activity in the province edges up (PDF, 236 KB)
- January 26, 2018: Earnings hold on to recent gains (PDF, 269 KB)
- January 19, 2018: Manufacturing shipments continue to rise (PDF, 237 KB)
- January 12, 2018: Oil production continues to grow (PDF, 274 KB)
- January 5, 2018: Strong gain in employment to end 2017 (PDF, 171 KB)
Issues prior to 2018
- 2004 (starts November 19, 2004)
- 2000 - 2004 (to November 12, 2004)
Archive: Weekly Economic Indicators at a Glance
- September 7, 2018 (PDF, 332 KB)
- August 31, 2018 (PDF, 318 KB)
- August 24, 2018 (PDF, 303 KB)
- August 17, 2018 (PDF, 335 KB)
- August 10, 2018 (PDF, 303 KB)
- August 3, 2018 (PDF, 315 KB)
- July 27, 2018 (PDF, 304 KB)
- July 20, 2018 (PDF, 304 KB)
- July 13, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- July 6, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- June 29, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- June 22, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- June 15, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- June 8, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- June 1, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- May 25, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- May 18, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- May 11, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- May 4, 2018 (PDF, 246 KB)
- April 27, 2018 (PDF, 300 KB)
- April 20, 2018 (PDF, 316 KB)
- April 13, 2018 (PDF, 298 KB)
- April 6, 2018 (PDF, 314 KB)
- March 29, 2018 (PDF, 315 KB)
- March 23, 2018 (PDF, 317 KB)
- March 16, 2018 (PDF, 316 KB)
- March 9, 2018 (PDF, 316 KB)
- March 2, 2018 (PDF, 338 KB)
- February 23, 2018 (PDF, 338 KB)
- February 16, 2018 (PDF, 331 KB)
- February 9, 2018 (PDF, 331 KB)
- February 2, 2018 (PDF, 328 KB)
- January 26, 2018 (PDF, 254 KB)
- January 19, 2018 (PDF, 251 KB)
- January 12, 2018 (PDF, 253 KB)
- January 5, 2018 (PDF, 281 KB)
Issues prior to 2018
Contact for the Economic Review
Robert Van Blyderveen, Economist
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
Contact for the Indicators at a Glance
Bijon Brown, Economist
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance