CALGARY -- We’re getting a better idea what Alberta’s economic recovery will look like according to new outlook from ATB Financial, but it is largely dependent on the COVID-19 crisis and oil prices.

The financial institution is forecasting the province’s real GDP will grow 4.1 per cent this year, followed by a 2.6 per cent growth in 2022.

The forecast puts Alberta on track to surpass where it was before the pandemic by 2023, but that's assuming the vaccination rollout is successful, reopenings increase, restrictions are further eased, and global demand for oil continues to grow.

"By 2023 we should have caught up to where we were in 2019 but that wasn’t a particularly strong year," explained Rob Roach, deputy chief economist at ATB Financial. "We were almost in a recession in 2019 so we need to get back to where we were then and then grow on top of that. I think we will but we’ll have to be patient."

The outlook shows 2021 looks better for Alberta’s oil patch but still down compared to 2019.

ATB is forecasting an average of $51US a barrel this year for Western Texas Intermediate, slightly higher than what the province forecasted in its recent budget at $45US a barrel.

Although ATB is forecasting almost four per cent employment growth, Alberta’s jobless rate is expected to remain around 10 per cent in 2021.

Roach says the recovery won't occur in one fell swoop. People who didn’t lose their jobs and businesses that didn’t have to close are expected to rebound relatively quickly, while those who did lose their job may have a harder time finding work as government financial relief winding down.

"The hospitality industry, restaurants, tourism, they’re going to continue to wait for economy to fully reopen and once it is they still have to repair the damage that was done in the last year, year and a half. So, those are the sectors that will take the longest to recover and most anxious to reopen."

ATB’s outlook also expects limited growth in the construction and housing market.

To view the full report visit ATB: Alberta Economic Outlook March 2021

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