Red Deer’s economy, after expanding strongly in 2017, is forecast to grow more slowly this year and next, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.
The Mid-Sized Cities Outlook (Economic Insights Into Select Canadian Cities) said real gross domestic product (GDP) should rise by 2.8 per cent in 2018 and by 2.2 per cent in 2019 in the Central Alberta city.
Moderating output growth will slow employment gains to 1.8 per cent in 2018 and to 1.4 per cent in 2019, following five per cent growth in 2017, said the report. It added that the ongoing job increases in Red Deer will shave the unemployment rate from eight per cent in 2017 down to 7.3 per cent in 2018 and 6.5 per cent in 2019.
“Red Deer’s economy posted a strong recovery last year, with real GDP growing by 4.9 per cent after two years of GDP contraction,” said the conference board report. “A rebound in the price of oil certainly underpinned most of the improvement, but stabilizing cattle prices provided an additional lift.
“Still, last year’s output gain did not fully recoup the losses in 2015 and 2016,” it continued. “The goods sector provided most of the increase, although the services sector also grew briskly. The job market last year benefited as well, with employment expanding by 2,700 positions, although employment did not return to where it was before the 2016 job losses.
“Moderate expansion lies ahead over the next two years for Red Deer. .… A better economy will fuel continued population growth, although the average 1.2 per cent annual gains that we expect this year and next are less than half of the 2.5 per cent average growth that Red Deer posted over the past 20 years.” Red Deer’s population sat at 100,418 at its last census, in 2016.
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.
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