BY ADVOCATE STAFF
A Servus Credit Union economist is predicting “robust economic times” for Albertans.
Mike Drotar, vice-president treasury with the Edmonton-based credit union, said in written forecast that growth in the province should hit 3.8 per cent this year and 3.6 per cent in 2015.
The energy sector will provide much of the stimulus, he said, with natural gas prices potentially averaging $5 per thousand cubic feet in 2015 and West Texas intermediate crude approaching $100 over the next three years.
A provincial unemployment rate of around four per cent could translate into a labour shortage and upward pressure on wages, said Drotar.
A wild card in the economic deck is the uncertainty surrounding the development of new pipeline capacity between Alberta and export markets, he said.
Nationally, the economy should reach 2.3 per cent in 2014 and 2.9 per cent in 2015, helped by Western Canada’s strong energy sector.
Equity markets will continue to climb, said Drotar, who pointed out that the Toronto Stock Exchange has gained 90 per cent from its March 2009 low.
On the global front, Drotar expects growth of just under four per cent over the next three years, with China averaging between seven and 7.5 per cent. He noted continued signs of recovery in the United States, and said the key for the U.S. and Europe is for the governments there to get long-term debt under control without “choking off” economic growth.