Alberta economy remains in doldrums, but no recession:ATB Financial

CALGARY – Alberta’s Crown-owned bank says the province’s economy remains in the doldrums, but it is not expecting a recession this year.

ATB Financial says thanks to low oil prices Alberta’s gross domestic product will still grow by slightly less than half of one per cent in 2015.

Chief economist Todd Hirsch says over the past year 38,000 jobs have been created, but overall the province’s labour market has weakened.

He also says investment in the energy sector is down and the real estate market is soft.

ATB’s third-quarter financial outlook says despite the downturn more people keep moving to Alberta, but not as many as in previous years.

Hirsch says while times are tough, ATB Financial does not expect them to get worse.

He says Albertans have been through such economic shocks before and no one should panic.

“The worst of the downturn is likely behind us,” he said in a release Tuesday. “We are close to the turning point where things could start to gradually improve.”

On the plus side, Hirsch says agriculture, forestry and tourism continue to benefit from lower fuel prices and the lower Canadian dollar.