Gross domestic product provides a “30,000-foot view” of how an economy is doing.
Simply put, up is good and down is bad.
To this end, Statistics Canada has released updated GDP numbers by province that show how Alberta’s economy has been doing up to the end of 2018. The numbers were captured in a report by ATB Financial’s Economics and Research team.
After a phenomenal rate of economic growth between 2010 and 2014, when Alberta’s real GDP was growing by an average of 5.4 per cent per year, the provincial economy contracted by 3.7 per cent in 2015 and by another 3.5 per cent in 2016. This downturn erased $37.5 billion of economic output over just two years.
GDP rebounded in 2017, rising by 4.8 per cent or about $15.6 billion. Growth continued in 2018, but was much slower at 1.6 per cent, adding just $5.4 billion to the economy. The hole dug by the recession was so deep that by the end of 2018, our real GDP was still one per cent ($3.6 billion) below where it was in 2014.
We have even more ground to make up when we take population growth into account. On a per capita basis, we are six per cent behind where we were in 2014. Admittedly, 2014 was a peak year for the provincial economy, but the statistical drop in GDP still stings and is felt by Albertans in the form of unemployment, struggling businesses and other hardships.
The ATB report states numbers for 2019 won’t be available until this time next year, but all signs are pointing to this being an even slower year than 2018.