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Alberta is once again positioned as one of Canada’s provincial growth leaders, according to the latest RBC Economics Provincial Outlook report released today.
The provincial economy is set to grow at a rate of 4.0 per cent this year and 3.9 per cent in 2012.
“Amid the heightened global economic uncertainty, Alberta’s steady progress towards full recovery from the recession is refreshing,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC, in a statement. “Were it not for the even stronger performance by Saskatchewan, Alberta would recapture the crown of Canada’s fastest growing provincial economy.”
RBC is forecasting economic growth for Canada of 2.3 per cent this year followed by 2.5 per cent in 2012.
Saskatchewan is expected to lead the country both years with growth rates of 4.5 per cent in 2011 and 4.2 per cent in 2012.
RBC said oil production in Alberta has fully recovered from the disruptions caused by the wildfires in May and is now on record pace. As capacity continues to grow in the oilsands, non-conventional crude production will set records in the period ahead, it said.
“At this point, there is an inventory of $120 billion worth of oilsands projects at various stages of development. Needless to say, oilsands megaprojects will continue to generate tremendous economic activity and will be a boon to Alberta’s economy for years to come,” said Wright.
Alberta’s job market is benefiting from the oil industry rise as 98,000 net new jobs have been created in the first 11 months of the year.
“What is most impressive about this supercharged job market is that gains are broadly based across industries,” said Wright. “The boom entirely emanates from the private sector — the source of an astounding 116,000 new jobs this year — which more than made up for declines registered in the public sector and among self-employed Albertans.”
RBC expects employment in Alberta to rise by 3.1 per cent next year.
“With job prospects improving so quickly and confidence rebuilding, Alberta consumers have been big spenders in 2011. Retail sales in the province have increased at one of the faster rates in the country, with big ticket items such as motor vehicles enjoying further resurgence from their recessionary lows,” said the RBC report. “We expect that favourable labour market conditions . . . will continue to support such a positive consumer spending trend in 2012.