After experiencing a modest increase in the second half of 2018, employment in Metro Edmonton eased in the first quarter of 2019. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for 2019 is estimated to be in the range of 1.3 per cent for the city of Edmonton. This will increase to 2.6 per cent in 2020.
In spite of weak employment numbers, average weekly wages in the first quarter of 2019 increased as the number of hours worked rose and employment in some high-paying sectors, such as the energy and manufacturing sectors, continued to recover some of the losses they saw in 2016. With very low inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, the rise in average weekly wages meant that consumers had real gains in their income. These gains will help sustain the consumer side of Edmonton’s economy over the course of 2019.
In 2019 and 2020, growth will persist as the economies of the province and the city continue to recover; this is assuming West Texas Intermediate (WTI, the North American benchmark oil price) holds within the $US 60 - $US 65 range. Growth rates, however, will be very modest when compared to those experienced between 2010 and 2014.
Lower growth prospects for the global economy and continuing uncertainty as to the expansion of energy export infrastructure will mean that Canadian energy prices are likely to be volatile over 2019. While prices improved in the first quarter of 2019, there is considerable downside risk with respect to energy prices that Alberta firms receive. This could have negative implications on the economic outlook for Edmonton and Alberta.