There’s a reason why Calgary’s CTrain has been feeling more congested lately: people have been flocking to Alberta. Not since the boom years have so many people arrived in our province—and if the pace keeps up it will have important implications for the local economy.
That people are coming to Alberta shouldn’t be a surprise. In fact, it’s slightly more surprising that it took until the first quarter of 2012 to see the numbers really spike. The unemployment rate is not only well below the national average, but wages have been steadily climbing. In fact, the average weekly wage in Alberta is now $156 higher than in Ontario.
While migrants from other provinces have recently shown more interest in our province, the upward trend in international migration has been occurring since the recession hit. Alberta gained about six thousand migrants due to international migration in the first quarter, almost double what the province was recording just five ears ago.
The tremendous influx of people during the boom years caused a severe shortage of housing and other social services. So far, Alberta’s infrastructure and housing stock appears more prepared to
accommodate the growing population. There’s a good reason for this, as housing starts, for instance,
might have dipped during the past couple years, they didn’t fall off of a cliff either. Major infrastructure
projects also continued to go ahead.
With companies actively recruiting out of province workers, both nationally and internationally, and the
prosperity gap still heavily in Alberta’s favour, there’s a good chance more people will be Alberta bound in the coming quarters. At a certain point it may strain our ability to accommodate them, but so far so good.*
*Will Van’t Veld, Economist, ATB Financial