Red Deer on road to recovery: economist

Worst of the recession appears to be over with growth expected this year

The worst appears to be over.

After being pummelled for two years, the province’s economy is expected to grow this year, with the pace slowing a little in 2018, said Conference Board of Canada deputy chief economist Pedro Antunes on Thursday.

Red Deer may do better still.

“For Red Deer we do feel there is enough momentum to keep going into 2018 …” said Antunes, who was speaking at the Western Business Outlook — Red Deer event organized by the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.

The city’s economic hit in 2016 was “very deep,” said Antunes. Red Deer shed 5,000 jobs last year, wiping out about six years of job creation gains, he said, cautioning statistics for small cities are not as precise as larger samples.

“Nonetheless, we do feel that’s too much of a hit and we should see employment coming up over the next two years.”

Likewise, consumer spending appears to have bottomed out and should start improving, which will be welcome news to retailers.

Red Deer’s housing market softened considerably, but the area remains affordable and prices are stable, which should put it on the road to recovery.

Developers were “very prudent” when it came to new construction so those numbers were way down last year. “We think there can only be an upside as we go forward to those numbers,” he said.

Provincially, economists are also predicting that the corner has been turned.

“I guess the theme is the worst is over,” he said. “I think that’s true for the province of Alberta and for many of its cities.”

In 2017, Alberta is expected to lead the nation in gross domestic product growth at 2.7 per cent. The Canadian average is forecast at two per cent.

However, world oil prices aren’t expected to top $60 a barrel until late 2018.

“With the oil price outlook that we have we don’t expect this kind of growth to continue; so little softer growth as we look to 2018.”

Antunes said the downturn was the “longest, steepest recession in recent memory.” 2009 was bad, but oil prices and the economy recovered quickly.

“This time around it was a much more dragged-out situation. But at least we have hit bottom and we are looking for growth.”

On the international front, there are a number of risks ahead, said Conference Board chief economist Craig Alexander.

Among them, U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist impulses could spell trouble, especially if it sets a precedent other world leaders follow.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, G-20 nations met and all agreed they would resist protectionism and trade barriers, said Alexander.

“What they knew from history was in the 1920s and 1930s what was going to be a very bad recession was made into the Great Depression by protectionism.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Huge RV resort proposed for Buffalo Lake

Some residents feel 800-lot RV resort too big for area

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

Land wanted for Central Alberta Foodgrains project

23rd year for Lacombe area charity

Stolen vehicle found thanks to tip from motorist

Charges laid against Red Deer man and Leduc County woman

City prepares for legal marijuana

Legalized recreational marijuana expected to have impact on many city policies

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Evangelist Billy Graham, who reached millions, dies at 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life… Continue reading

Amid a flood of plastic, big companies see opportunity

LONDON — Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is swelling… Continue reading

Ambulance’s slow response time angers family

Woman suffers stroke, waits nearly an hour for ambulance

Over-burdened refugee tribunal ditches legislated timelines for hearings

OTTAWA — The Immigration and Refugee Board is giving up on following… Continue reading

Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off profile: Troy Gillard

** Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off takes place on April 14 at the Sheraton Red Deer

New mobile paramedic program starts in Red Deer

Paramedics provide on-site care to those with chronic conditions

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month