Employment in the Edmonton census metropolitan area (CMA) saw relatively strong growth in the latter half of the 2010s, recovering all jobs lost following the 2014 drop in oil prices by mid-2018. Employment growth in Edmonton for 2019 was modest, with gains of 1.1 per cent overall compared to 2018. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2019 was estimated to be in the range of 0.5 per cent for the city of Edmonton. This is expected to increase to the range of 1.4 per cent in 2020.
Average weekly wages in the Edmonton CMA were relatively unchanged in Q4 2019 on a year-over-year basis, reflecting weakness in full-time employment compared to previous quarters in 2019. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), averaged two per cent during Q4 2019. After adjusting wages for inflation, average weekly wages in Q4 2019 were 2.3 per cent lower year-over-year.
Growth in 2020 is expected to marginally improve as the economies of the province and the city continue to recover; this is assuming West Texas Intermediate (WTI, the North American benchmark oil price) holds within the $US 50 – $US 60 range. Growth rates, however, will be very modest when compared to those experienced between 2010 and 2014.
Downgraded growth prospects for the global economy and continuing uncertainty as to the expansion of energy export infrastructure will mean that Canadian energy prices are likely to be volatile in 2020. Despite improvements in prices in the fourth quarter of 2019, there are downside risks with respect to the energy prices that Alberta producers receive. This could have negative implications on the economic outlook for the city of Edmonton, Edmonton CMA and the province of Alberta.