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Alberta’s economy the best in Canada in 2011

CALGARY — Alberta’s economy grew at the fastest rate among the provinces in 2011, expanding 5.1 per cent compared with an increase of 4.0 per cent in 2010, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported Monday that exports in the province advanced 9.2 per cent, more than four times their pace in 2010. Consumer spending rose 3.4 per cent, driven by household outlays on durable goods, notably new trucks and used motor vehicles, and services. Business investment was up 7.6 per cent, despite a 5.2 per cent decline in investment in residential housing.

And on Monday, the Conference Board of Canada released a report indicating Alberta will lead the country in 2012 with economic growth of 3.4 per cent.

The board’s Provincial Outlook-Autumn 2012 report said the Western provinces remain in the best position to ride out the current global economic weakness.

“For the most part, Western Canadian provinces have been relatively shielded from the fiscal and economic troubles lingering in external markets,” said the report. “The economies of Saskatchewan and Alberta in particular have performed strongly, and their near-term prospects are more favourable than those for the rest of the country. For both provinces, real economic growth will remain at or above three per cent through 2014.

“Development of the oilsands is expected to continue to drive economic growth in Alberta, despite the recent slide in oil prices. Tight labour markets – the unemployment rate is down to 4.5 per cent – have boosted wages and consumer spending. Alberta is forecast to lead all provinces in growth for the second consecutive year, with real GDP set to expand by 3.4 per cent in 2012.”

The Canadian economy is expected to expand by 1.8 per cent this year.

The board forecasts Saskatchewan will overtake Alberta as the economic growth leader in the country in 2013 and 2014, 3.4 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively compared with Alberta’s growth of 3.0 per cent and 3.3 per cent in those years. For Canada, growth is forecast for 2.3 per cent and 2.6 per cent in the next two years.

“We continue to expect the western ‘tilt’ in growth, favouring Saskatchewan and Alberta, to persist this year and next, with mostly moderate rates of expansions prevailing elsewhere in the country,” said Robert Hogue, senior economist with RBC Economics in its provincial outlook update which was released on Monday.

Statistics Canada said most provinces and territories recorded slower economic growth in 2011 compared with 2010, with the exception of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Yukon, where growth accelerated.

Nationally, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.6 per cent, compared with 3.2 per cent growth in the previous year.

“The resource-rich provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and Alberta increased their combined share of national GDP in nominal terms to 23 per cent in 2011 from 22 per cent in 2010. Yukon led the country with growth of 6.5% in 2011. The Northwest Territories economy contracted 5.1 per cent,” said the federal agency.

Business investment drove growth in the Canadian economy, as well as most provincial and territorial economies in 2011, increasing 7.1 per cent nationally on the strength of outlays in non-residential structures and machinery and equipment.


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