The Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) saw a rise in construction intentions during the first quarter of 2018, when compared to Q1 2017 and Q4 2017, with both residential and non-residential builders obtaining permits valued at over $1 billion. This figure shows a 1.4 per cent increase over Q4 2017. The majority of the construction intentions are for single family units. However, a 42 per cent drop in industrial building permits offsets gains in commercial, institutional, and government construction.
Meanwhile, employment in the Edmonton CMA increased by approximately 700 positions during the spring, with gains seen in part-time employment. The unemployment rate fell from 6.7 per cent to 6.6 per cent, which may be attributed to a shrinking overall labour force.
In comparison, during the same timeframe, the number of job seekers across Alberta rose, spiking the unemployment rate in the province from 6.3 per cent to 6.7 per cent. However, on a broader scale, Canada’s greater employment picture remained level with an unemployment rate of 5.8 per cent.
According to the City of Edmonton’s Economic Indicators report, “The Edmonton region’s job gains in 2017 demonstrated that the region has begun a recovery from the downturn in 2016. Despite the month-over-month decrease in April 2018, very strong gains in the Edmonton region’s full-time employment over the past 12 months suggest employers are now more confident about adding to their workforce. As well, with the past year’s employment growth concentrated in full-time positions, average weekly wages grew 5.5 per cent year-over-year in April 2018. Consequently, workers are seeing very good gains in their income even when inflation is factored in. This boost to incomes will help to support consumer spending going forward.”
The City of Edmonton expects growth in manufacturing and the professional and finanical service sectors during the latter part of 2018, along with a further reduction in the unemployment rate. Growth in the working-age population is also encouraging because labour and skill shortages are still a possibility for Edmonton’s rebounding economy.
Annual inflation in the Edmonton CMA edged up from 2.4 per cent in March to 2.5 per cent in April. Once again, rising shelter costs are partly to blame, along with a sharp rise in prices for water, natural gas, electricity, and gasoline.
Calgary’s inflation rate rose comparatively from 2.3 per cent to 2.4 per cent during the same time frame. Province-wide, inflation remained level at 2.3 per cent, despite gasoline prices rising 18 per cent higher on a year-over-year basis. Canada-wide, the Consumer Price Index dropped slightly from 2.3 per cent in March to 2.2 per cent in April.
According to Economic Indicators, “Shelter-related costs in the Edmonton region are continuing to increase at a slightly more rapid pace when compared to the rest of Canada. Inflation in Edmonton is expected to remain above 2.0 per cent over the coming months.”
Edmonton’s slow but steady recovery from the recession continues, with positive indications on many fronts.