After a tough 2020, both Calgary and Edmonton can look forward to economic growth this year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Conference Board of Canada.
In Calgary, the city’s real GDP fell by an estimated 5.7 per cent in 2020 as the pandemic and low oil prices hurt the economy. Calgary is forecast to rebound with GDP growth of 5.1 per cent in 2021, said the Board in its latest Metropolitan Outlook.
Edmonton, which saw multiple waves of COVID-19 outbreaks, saw its real GDP fall by an estimated 7.2 per cent in 2020, among the steepest declines in the country. Fortunately, Edmonton’s GDP is forecast to bounce back a healthy 6.3 per cent in 2021, it said.
For Calgary, coming off a strong performance in 2019, employment fell by an estimated 6.5 per cent in 2020, mostly due to a 10.9 per cent decline in the second quarter. The second wave of the pandemic also diminished Calgary’s labour market recovery in the fourth quarter of the year, said the report.
With fewer new cases of COVID-19 and the vaccine rollout in 2021, employment is forecast to increase by 5.6 per cent, added the report.
“Calgary’s unemployment rate reached 15.6 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 and then finished the year at 11.9 per cent overall. The unemployment rate is expected to slide to 10.6 per cent in 2021 and 10.3 per cent in 2022—still far above its pre-pandemic level,” said the Board.
“As in other parts of Alberta, Calgary benefited from solid international migration in 2019, which was welcomed by the construction industry. With the pandemic and a troubled oil patch significantly reducing migration flows in 2020, net international migration fell by roughly 12,510 people, while net interprovincial migration declined by about 1,310. As Calgary’s economy starts to recover in 2021, international migration is expected to improve, although interprovincial migration will worsen, improving only in 2022.”
Following only tepid growth in 2019, employment in Edmonton fell by an estimated 8.9 per cent in 2020, weighed down mostly by a 13.1 per cent decline in the second quarter, said the report.
“The surge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave also had the effect of limiting the employment recovery. With fewer new cases and the vaccine rollout this year, the city’s job count is expected to grow by 6.3 per cent.
Edmonton’s unemployment rate reached 15.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, finishing at 11.9 for the year overall. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to an average of 9.8 per cent in 2021 and 2022—still significantly higher than its pre-pandemic level.
“Industries such as construction benefited from strong international and interprovincial migration in 2019. With the pandemic significantly reducing migration flows in 2020, net international migration fell by roughly 12,830, while net interprovincial migration declined by an estimated 1,740. As the economy starts to recover in 2021, interprovincial migration is expected to improve. But international migration will worsen, as international travel remains restrained.”