Over the past year and a half, Canada, along with the rest of the world, experienced an economic downturn, the likes of which had not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. After more than a decade of relatively stable economic growth that culminated in the housing market bubble collapse in the U.S., the world financial system, and subsequently the world economy began to fall apart. Massive, previously unseen, fiscal stimulus expenditure in the form of both infrastructure spending and ‘bailouts’ was undertaken in the U.S., and to a lesser degree in Canada, in order to stabilize the banking and financial systems, spur demand, and carry the economy on the path of expansion. Now, in the first months of 2010, many economic indicators indicate that the worst has passed and Canada is on the path to economic recovery, but the process is likely to be long. Such indicators, however, must be interpreted with caution. Although aggregate output, as seen below, grew in the second and third quarters of 2009, after two quarters of negative growth, in which Canada was in the textbook definition of a recession, labour force statistics still suggest that recovery is occurring at a slow pace, and many jobs are yet to be ‘reborn’. Furthermore, government deficit and debt problems, especially those in the U.S., do not bode well. Roughly 75% of Canada’s exports and 87% of Alberta’s exports (2008 values) are destined for the U.S., so a slumbering American economy is sure to have adverse impacts north of the border. 2 In light of these facts, what follows is a summary of the recession, from both the output and input sides of the Alberta economy. First, aggregate output data is analyzed, then leading macroeconomic indicators are presented. These two sections paint a relatively positive picture of recovery. Following is an analysis of the labor force statistics, typically lagging variables, which tell a very different story. Sector analysis is included for the oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, wholesale, transportation and warehousing, and professional and technical service sectors. All reported figures are unadjusted unless otherwise indicated primarily because seasonally adjusted figures for most indicators are typically published by Statistics Canada with a three month lag.


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