In 2012, Alberta's economy led the economic growth of the country at 3.9%. In 2013, Alberta's economy is expected to lead the country once again albeit second to Newfoundland & Labrador according to a report released by RBC Economics Research. According to ATB Financial's senior economist, Todd Hirsch, the growth of Saskatchewan's economy may surpass Alberta this year. "It is difficult to say as Alberta was losing some of its workers to Saskatchewan for the past several years, however the situation seems to have inversed with Saskatchewan losing oil sand workers to Alberta. The push-and-pull between these two Prairie sisters has seen some dramatic movements of people over the decades," Hirsch said.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is a primary indicator used to gauge the health of a country's economy. Alberta's GDP growth is expected to increase by 3% in 2013 due to strong crude oil production, low unemployment rates, high levels of capital investment and population growth. Although Alberta's GDP growth is high, it remains second to Newfoundland's whose growth is expected to increase by 5.1% this year. However, according to RBC Economics, Alberta's economy is forecasted to lead the country next year with a GDP growth expected of 4.2%. Overall, Canada's expected GDP growth is 1.8% for 2013 which is lower than the previous forecast by RBC economists because of lower than expected growth the year before. RBC forecasts a national growth of 2.9% in 2014. Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist at RBC stated, "Even though the province recently announced a $2 billion budget deficit, Alberta is unquestionably in the midst of an impressive economic boom - particularly with capital investment fuelling manufacturing and wholesalers' sales. Attractive employment opportunities are also bringing new migrants to the province, boosting population growth and in turn, consumer spending. As the economy continues to thrive across the majority of key industries, Alberta will remain at the top-end of Canada's economic growth rankings this year."
The trends seen in Alberta's housing market are aligned with a strong economy. While Fort McMurray has the highest property prices in the province, resale activity has increased which indicates a booming economy. Development of single-family houses, condos and apartments in Fort McMurray to accommodate a growing population demonstrates that economic growth is expected to continue.
The unemployment rate is also a strong indicator of a country's economy. Alberta's unemployment rate has dropped from 4.6% of the population being unemployed in 2010 to a 4.4% unemployment rate this year. This means that Alberta's unemployment rate in 2012 and 2013 has been the second lowest in Canada, with Saskatchewan having the lowest unemployment rate in the country. There are some areas of concern amongst economists when it comes to Alberta's economy, particularly, investments in the oil and gas sector being lower than predicted in 2013. RBC economists note that energy developers are currently suffering delays due to the high cost of energy production in the United States and bottlenecks in the oil pipelines.