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A closer look at AB and SK's economic growth

January 23, 2018
A closer look at AB and SK's economic growth

There have been a few barbs on Twitter and in the media over the past while about the economic performance of Saskatchewan and Alberta during the recent recession and recovery period.

With that in mind, I decided to look up the changes in real GDP over the past couple years, as well as projections for 2017-2019.

Here are the figures:

   2015       2016       2017       2018       2019   
Alberta -3.9% -3.6% 4.1% 2.3% 2.0%
Saskatchewan     -1.2% -0.4% 2.1% 2.7% 2.7%

Sources: 2015-2016 figures are from Statistics Canada. 2017-2019 figures are forecasts from December 2017 RBC Provincial Outlook reports (AB / SK).



As you can see, Alberta experienced a much deeper plunge than Saskatchewan saw during the 2015-2016 period.

Further, while it’s great that Alberta appears to be growing once again, we shouldn’t get too excited about the 4.1% growth estimate for 2017. Remember, that “large” growth figure comes after an even larger contraction – of more than 7% – during the previous two years.

As RBC notes, “it will take until 2019 for Alberta’s economy to recover fully from its severe recession in 2015 and 2016.”

If we use 2014 as a reference year, you can see that Saskatchewan’s recovery is expected to continue to outperform Alberta’s over the next two years.


Finally, I would note that comparing the two provinces during the recent recession is not exactly an apples-to-apples examination.  I'd have to look up the figures, but Alberta's economy is quite a bit more exposed to fluctuations in world oil prices than Saskatchewan's.

However, as long as comparisons are still being made between the two – and people are cherry picking figures they like – hopefully this data provides some food for thought.

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