Weekly 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 (May 25, 2018) (PDF, 235 KB)

See below for highlights from the publication.

New housing investment continues to recover

New housing investment: gains continue in March

  • Investment in new housing construction increased for the second month in a row, rising 0.5% month-over-month (m/m) in March.
  • The monthly increase was driven by investment in row units, which have been strong throughout the winter, and a modest uptick in singles.
  • Meanwhile, investment in semi-detached and apartment units declined, reversing February’s gains.
  • On an annual basis, new housing investment was up 8.2% year-over-year (y/y) driven by solid growth in single-family and row dwellings (Chart 1).

Chart 1: Growth in singles and rows remain robust
Contribution to year-over-year growth in nominal new housing investment

Chart 1: Growth in singles and rows remain robust: Contribution to year-over-year growth in nominal new housing investment.
Source: Statistics Canada

Non-residential building construction price index:
Contractor prices improving

  • Construction inflation in Alberta inched higher at the start of 2018.
  • In the first quarter, the non-residential building construction price index (NBCPI) grew 0.4% quarter-over-quarter (q/q) (Chart 2), reflecting higher contractor prices for all structure types.
  • In particular, construction costs for industrial building rose at the fastest pace since first quarter of 2012 (+0.9%).
  • Regionally, the cost of constructing a non-residential building increased in both Calgary and Edmonton.

Chart 2: Construction costs continue to recover
Year-over-year growth in Alberta non-residential building construction prices

Chart 2: Construction costs continue to recover: Year-over-year growth in Alberta non-residential building construction prices.
Source: Statistics Canada

Wholesale trade: sales tick down

  • After 3 straight monthly gains, wholesale trade sector took a breather in March.
  • The value of wholesale trade in Alberta edged down 0.7% m/m to $6.7 billion (Chart 3), reflecting declines in 4 of the 7 subsectors.
  • The decline was most pronounced in machinery and equipment, which fell for a second month in a row (-2.6%).
  • Personal and household goods also slumped (-5.3%).
  • These declines were mitigated by continued gains in building materials and supplies and a pickup in food and beverages and motor vehicles and parts.
  • Despite the monthly decline, wholesale trade were up 8.5% in the first quarter over the same period last year, reflecting gains in building materials, machinery and equipment, and farm products.

Chart 3: Wholesale trade hovering near 3-year high
Value and growth of wholesale trade in Alberta (seasonally adjusted)

Chart 3: Wholesale trade hovering near 3-year high: Value and growth of wholesale trade in Alberta (seasonally adjusted).
Source: Statistics Canada

Employment Insurance claims dip to a 3-year low

  • The number of Albertans applying for Employment Insurance (EI) dropped significantly in March.
  • The number of EI applications declined 8.9% m/m and 10.4% y/y to 20,970, the lowest level since January 2015 (Chart 4).
  • Both initial and renewal claims have declined, as initial claims fell to its historical range but renewal claims remained elevated.
  • With fewer claims submitted, the number of Albertans receiving regular EI benefits continued its downward trend that began in late 2016.

Chart 4: Employment Insurance claims approaching pre-recession levels
Seasonally adjusted total employment insurance claims received

Chart 4: Employment Insurance claims approaching pre-recession levels: Seasonally adjusted total employment insurance claims received.
Source: Statistics Canada

International travel: non-resident visitors rise

  • International travellers landing in Alberta rose for a second consecutive month in March.
  • The number of non-resident visitors entering Canada via Alberta increased 6.7% y/y to 93,839.
  • U.S. visitations continued to be strong, posting growth of 9.2%, while overseas visitations saw a modest increase of 1.4%.

Canadian corporate profits near record levels

  • Earnings of Canadian corporations bounced back in the first quarter of 2018.
  • Corporate profits grew 2.7% to $99.3 billion, reflecting growth in the finance and insurance and manufacturing sectors, with the latter climbing to a new record high.
  • Manufacturing profits were driven by petroleum and coal products and primary metal manufacturing.
  • The increase in primary metal manufacturing in the quarter was attributable to strong commodities prices.
  • The oil and gas extraction industry recorded losses, following a gain in the previous quarter, in part due to a significant widening of the light-heavy oil price differential.

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: complete Weekly Economic Indicators (May 25, 2018) (PDF, 246 KB)

Economic Indicators - data tables

The following file contains data in the tables and charts of the Weekly Economic Indicators at a Glance publication, and is updated every Friday afternoon.

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Archive: Weekly Economic Review

2018

Issues prior to 2018

Archive: Weekly Economic Indicators at a Glance

2018

Issues prior to 2018

Contact

Contact for the Economic Review

Bijon Brown, Economist
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance

Phone: 780-643-1876
Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000 before the phone number
Email: Bijon.Brown@gov.ab.ca

Contact for the Indicators at a Glance

Robert Van Blyderveen, Economist
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance

Phone: 780-638-5628
Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000 before the phone number
Email: Robert.Vanblyderveen@gov.ab.ca