More people leaving Alta than moving in for 1st time in 15 years: Stats Canada

Saddled with dwindling employment and shrinking energy prices, Alberta seems to be losing its status as the promised land for job-seekers from across Canada.

CALGARY — Saddled with dwindling employment and shrinking energy prices, Alberta seems to be losing its status as the promised land for job-seekers from across Canada.

For more than a decade the province’s resource-rich economy has drawn in hundreds of thousands of people from Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere.

But Statistics Canada’s third-quarter population estimate for 2009 shows more people left Alberta for other provinces than moved in.

That’s the first time that has happened since 1994.

Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with the Bank of Montreal, says the province was pulling in almost 50,000 people a year from other provinces at the height of the energy boom .

“It is an amazing turnaround from as recently as three years ago when, on average, we were seeing about 12,000 or 13,000 net new migrants (per quarter) into Alberta from the rest of the country,” he said Wednesday.

The culprit is probably a rising unemployment rate that’s the result of tumbling energy prices, Porter said.

For example, Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate was consistently higher than Alberta’s several years ago but is now two percentage points lower.

“The relative attractiveness of Alberta has at least temporarily waned.”

Todd Hirsch, a senior economist with ATB Financial, said in a research note that the change is a logical result of a recession that could have left many people who came to the province from other provinces suddenly unemployed.

“Because so much of Alberta’s labour force arrived over the past few years from other provinces, it is logical that job-seekers may decide to return home if they find themselves out of work in Alberta.”

Porter said it’s unlikely the trend will continue for too long because the energy sector has seen some recent gains that will probably lead to a revival of jobs over time.

Alberta’s unemployment soared during the global recession, but it has shown recent signs of recovery. The province’s employment rose by 13,000 in November, the biggest gain in more than a year.

Porter predicted it might not bounce back immediately, so it might be a couple of years before people start flowing back.

“(The energy sector) is definitely going through a heavy-duty adjustment now because of the decline in prices from the peak, but we believe over time it will continue to act as a magnet for investment and for people.”

In the meantime, there’s no need to worry about a suddenly shrinking Alberta — the province’s population still grew more than the national average over the quarter, according to Statistics Canada.

The province is still the third-fastest behind only British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Just Posted

Alberta hiring more paramedics and buying new ambulances, none for Red Deer

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer is not concerned the provincial government didn’t… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Halifax airport operations normalize after Boeing 747 runway overshoot

HALIFAX — The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has resumed normal operations a… Continue reading

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP ready for new mandatory alcohol screening law

Red Deer RCMP are ready to enforce a new law intended to… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Brothers, 20, face second-degree murder charge in death of teen: police

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Police west of Toronto say two brothers have been… Continue reading

A young mayor, his friend, and a fatal attraction to opioids

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

GM fights to retain key tax credit amid plant closing plans

WASHINGTON — General Motors is fighting to retain a valuable tax credit… Continue reading

TTC union asks provincial government to step in on transition to Presto

TORONTO — The union representing transit workers in Canada’s most populous city… Continue reading

Small pot growers find roadblocks on path to microcultivation licences

Yan Boissonneault’s daughter was turning blue. Without warning, his baby had stopped… Continue reading

Most Read