The Alberta government now forecasts the economy to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2017, up from the budget forecast of 2.6 per cent, as detailed in the First Quarter Fiscal Update and Economic Statement. Most private sector and other forecasters expect Alberta’s economic growth to lead the provinces in 2017.
Alberta added nearly 17,000 jobs so far this year and employment is now forecast to grow by 1.3 per cent in 2017, up from 0.9 per cent forecast at budget.
The Alberta Activity Index, a weighted average of nine monthly economic indicators, climbed about five per cent through to May. Other positive economic indicators include:
- The number of rigs drilling averaged 127 in the first seven months of 2017, doubling over the same period in 2016.
- Housing starts through July increased 23 per cent from the same period 2016.
- Non-energy exports were up 7.1 per cent in the first half of 2017 and reached the second highest mark on record in March at $2.9 billion.
Despite a recovering economy, the persistent effects of the downturn and a lower-than-expected oil price weighed on provincial revenue. This was partly offset by an improved light-heavy crude differential, along with higher revenue from Crown lease sales and investment income.
Government is addressing the revenue shortfall by using $250 million of the budgeted $500 million risk adjustment and targeting a further $200 million on top of the $200 million in savings proposed in Budget 2017. The forecast deficit is unchanged from budget at $10.5 billion.