Sylvan Lake Market Update – The real estate market in the first half of August has been as hot as the weather with sales up almost double over the same period in July. Sylvan Lake is the one market in central Alberta to experience that kind of activity this month, so enthusiasm for lake life in the warm weather probably was a factor in Sylvan Lake. The most active market was the $350,000 to $400,000 price range but we did see more activity at the higher end of the price spectrum, probably due to cottage and lakefront sales which appear to be picking up.
The overall central Alberta market is still quite strong with year to date sales up from last year. New construction appears to be keeping pace with population growth in most places and is keeping price growth stable. Our research shows that prices have now recovered from the economic downturn in 2008 except at the high end of the price spectrum. A couple of the reasons for our continuing strong housing market are outlined below:
Alberta’s unemployment rate globally impressive – Nick Ford, Economist, ATB Financial – Alberta is the envy of Canada, at least when it comes to finances. Our economy leads the nation, particularly in job creation and a low unemployment rate. Alberta’s unemployment rate currently sits at 4.9 per cent, holding second place behind Saskatchewan’s 3.9 per cent.
Alberta’s employment environment fairs well not only on the domestic front, but also on the global stage. Using data from Statistics Canada, it sits in sixth place when compared to the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada places seventeenth (7.1 per cent unemployment) while the United States just misses the top ten by landing eleventh with a current unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent (according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics).
However, since the latest available OECD data is from October 2013, the unemployment rate for October 2013 can be used to level the playing field. When this is done, Alberta jumps up one spot to fifth place (4.5 per cent unemployment). Canada also slides up one spot to sixteenth (7.0 per cent unemployment). The U.S., with a higher unemployment rate (7.2%), slides back eight spots to number 19.
Here at home, Alberta’s job market remains the strongest in Canada. Continued growth in the province’s economy in 2014 will maintain a balanced job market and a low, healthy unemployment rate. ATB Financial predicts the unemployment rate will average at 4.5 per cent this year.
Manufacturing on a tear in June – Todd Hirsch, Chief Economist, ATB Financial – The value of manufacturing shipments in Alberta reached a new record high in June at just under $7 billion, adjusted for seasonality. According to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada, manufacturing racked up $6.925 billion in sales in June, a big jump (+4.7 per cent) from the previous month.
Total manufacturing in Alberta, which is largely related to the energy and chemical sectors, has been trending steadily higher over the last twelve months. Sales are up by 7.6 per cent compared to the previous twelve month period. Nationally, manufacturing was also strong in June. Sales of $52.0 billion are up 0.6 per cent from May—the fifth gain in six months.
Alberta’s unusually large jump can be partially attributed to the chemical industry. Statistics Canada notes: “Much of the gain in June reflected higher than usual sales in the pesticide, fertilizer and other agricultural chemical sub-industry. This year, colder and wetter weather in the Western provinces delayed planting, leading to some sales in this sub-industry shifting from May to June, which contributed to the stronger seasonally adjusted sales for the month.”
There was also a notable increase in Alberta’s equipment and machinery manufacturing, reflecting higher sales of mining and oil and gas field equipment. Total machinery sales jumped to a near-record of $696 million.