In Canada’s economy there’s Alberta, and there’s everywhere else.
The oil- and gas-rich western province was responsible for all of the country’s net employment growth over the past 12 months, adding 81,800 jobs while the rest of Canada lost 9,500. Alberta’s trade surplus, C$7.4 billion ($6.9 billion) in May, almost matched the deficit rung up everywhere else.
If growth trends over the past decade continue, Alberta would pass Quebec to become the country’s second-largest provincial economy in three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Alberta is already by far the strongest province economically, and higher oil prices will only exacerbate the regional split,” Benjamin Reitzes, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto, said in a telephone interview.
Alberta’s growing power is doing more than putting energy ahead of manufacturing exports such as Ontario’s cars and Quebec’s aircraft. It’s drawing tens of thousands of young people to the province, seeking energy jobs with some of the country’s highest salaries.
It’s also posing a challenge to policy makers: Oil wealth has led to a stronger Canadian dollar, squeezing Ontario and Quebec manufacturers. Canada’s central bank is keeping interest rates near historic lows, looking for a weaker currency to boost exports.
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