Calgary has long been known as the capital city of Canada's oil and gas industries. While energy remains a key player in the Calgary economy, it is by no means the only big player in town. As the city's population has boomed over the past thirty years, the economic base in Calgary has quietly diversified. Today, oil and gas companies employ only 7% of Albertans - a figure that surprises almost everyone.
According to University of Calgary Economics Professor Trevor Tombe, despite the strong presence in Calgary of all the Canadian and international energy companies, the energy industry ranks only fifth in the top sectors of Alberta's economy, behind construction (the leader), health care, retail trade and professional, scientific and technical services. Professor Tombe and others argue that it is the tremendous diversity in the Calgary and Alberta economies that has buoyed the region and kept the economy stable despite the energy industry's recent woes. Tombe argues, "The unemployment rate is below the national average, the number of new job vacancies relative to the number of workers who are unemployed is better than the national average."
A quick look at Calgary’s top employers in 2015 reveals that only one in the top five is an energy company - further evidence of the city's diverse economy. A look back a few years shows that the movement toward a more diversified economy has been underway for some time. Bruce Graham, the president of Calgary Economic Development believes that the diversification trend is "partly because we've grown to a city of over a million people. So there's obviously a lot of self-sustaining services that happen here...diversity is quietly happening here in Calgary as you may not expect it."
While the oil and energy giants reorganize in the wake of a major downturn in their business cycle, the finance & business sector remains strong following a huge growth period in the last 15 years. Insurance, real estate, educational services, transportation, and manufacturing have all seen exponential growth during the same period. In the technology sector, Calgary remains home to the largest number of Canadian start-up companies per capita.
The Canadian energy industry is currently making its way through a major down cycle. Energy companies based in Calgary are, without a doubt, feeling the impact of the downturn and focusing attention and resources on alternative and renewable sources of energy. Diversification will be the key to survival in a major down cycle. Those who do it well, will - like the City of Calgary itself - emerge stronger than ever.
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About Allison James
Allison James has been a realtor® since 1999 with Century 21 Bamber Realty Ltd. in the changing Calgary real estate market. A Century 21 Centurion Award 2007 recipient and a member of CREA and AREA, she specializes in residential real estate and has her designations as a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and a Certified Condominium Specialist. These designations testify that she has the expertise and resources to help her clients make a smooth transition to the next step in their life journey. She enjoys helping her clients as they move through many of the same stages of life that she, too, has experienced. The fact that the majority of her business comes from past clients and/or referrals from satisfied clients speaks volumes about her dedication to the high quality of service that she offers her clients to meet their Calgary and surrounding area real estate needs. She is a mother of four who are all on their own now, and a grandmother of eight. Besides helping people buy or sell real estate, she loves spending time with her family, being active outdoors, traveling and meeting new people, photography, playing the drums, reading, scuba diving, listening to music, learning new things, and nurturing her spiritual growth.