ATB Financial predicts slow economy, more oilpatch layoffs this year in Alberta

CALGARY – ATB Financial is predicting more tough times for Alberta in the second half of the year.

The provincially-owned lender says the economy is set to fall by 1.9 per cent this year after a four per cent contraction in 2015. It says the Fort McMurray, Alta., wildfires will stall economic growth this year, but rebuilding will help boost the numbers in 2017 to a positive two per cent.

Chief economist Todd Hirsch says the slowdown in Alberta’s energy sector over the summer will mean more layoffs, driving the unemployment rate above eight per cent, up from 7.9 per cent in June.

Meanwhile, he says the weak economy will affect retail and housing markets and lead to a net outflow of interprovincial migrants.