Cal­gary slowly pulling out of re­ces­sion: Ex­pert

Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 31, 2017 Out­look rosy as res­i­dents are spend­ing money again

StarMetro Calgary - - YOUR ESSENTIAL DAILY NEWS - Aaron chatha Metro | Cal­gary

Al­though Cal­gar­i­ans might not see it yet, the city and the prov­ince is crawl­ing out of the re­ces­sion, by way of pub­lic spend­ing and a new eco­nomic di­rec­tion.

Speak­ing at the an­nual Cal­gary Eco­nomic Out­look, Todd Hirsch, ATB Fi­nan­cial’s Chief Econ­o­mist, said there are three prom­i­nent growth ar­eas in Al­berta right now: en­ergy, re­tail and hous­ing. En­ergy While the en­ergy sec­tor was re- spon­si­ble for a mas­sive num­bers of 2015 lay­offs, en­ergy com­pa­nies are be­gin­ning to hire again — with a caveat. New jobs in the in­dus­try aren’t pay­ing as much as they used to — aver­age weekly earn­ings are down about 10 per cent in this new po­si­tions.

Hirsch said four years ago, en­ergy was the en­gine driv­ing growth in Al­berta, but now it will take a back­seat to new sec­tors.

“In 2017, and go­ing for­ward, it’s changed its role to this: the back­bone of the pro­vin­cial econ­omy,” he said. “Still very im­por­tant, but in a dif­fer­ent role.” Re­tail There was a time when Cal­gary was see­ing a steady eight per cent growth in re­tail sales, un­til it came crash­ing down around Oc­to­ber 2014.

How­ever, as of Au­gust 2017, it looks like peo­ple are spend­ing again — re­tail sales have ac­tu­ally sur­passed record highs mea­sured in 2014.

While it’s good news, Glen Hodg­son, se­nior fel­low at the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada, said it could be at­trib­uted to pent up de­mand from the last few years. By next year it could re-sta­bi­lize.

Hirsch added that in­creased spend­ing still hasn’t pulled re­tail­ers back from the deep end — they’re still mak­ing up for years of ex­penses in a slower econ­omy, and will con­tinue to feel that stress for some time. Hous­ing Be­fore the re­ces­sion, Cal­gary was build­ing about 40,000 new units per year. The re­ces­sion sunk those num­bers to about 18,000, but in the first half of 2017, we’re up to more than 30,000 units be­ing built.

Hirsch at­tributes this to peo­ple who had the funds but held off pur­chas­ing a prop­erty, as they were un­sure how far the hous­ing mar­ket might crash. Now they’re fi­nally pulling the trig­ger. The fu­ture The mes­sage hasn’t changed much from last year’s Out­look — Cal­gary needs to di­ver­sify, and the city is work­ing hard to bring in more busi­nesses and step away from oil.

Mary Mo­ran, Pres­i­dent & CEO of Cal­gary Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, an­nounced that by next spring, they will be up­dat­ing Cal­gary’s 10-Year Eco­nomic Strat­egy.

“It’s been five years since it was last up­dated, and I’m pleased to an­nounce al­most 90 per cent of the ini­tia­tives out­lined in that strat­egy are un­der­way,” she said. “But we truly need a strat­egy that is more re­flec­tive of how Cal­gary can work faster and more col­lab­o­ra­tively in or­der to sur­vive and thrive in the un­cer­tainty of the new econ­omy.”

She hopes to one day earn Cal­gary the brand of most in­no­va­tive city in Canada.

AArOn ChAthA/MEtrO

Glen Hodg­son,

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