The Red Deer market is behaving the way we would expect considering current economic conditions in Alberta. Sales are down slightly in the first two weeks of April when compared to the same period last year. The number of active listings is up again compared to last month and much higher than they were a year ago. The vast majority of the increase in active listings since last year comes in the $250,000 – $350,000 price range, creating an incredible opportunity for first time buyers.
The overall central Alberta market is also behaving the way we would expect. Sales are generally slightly lower and the listing count is higher, creating an imbalance and finally an advantage for buyers. And it appears that buyers are taking advantage based on the number of pending sales at the middle of the month.
There is no question this is the right time to be looking to purchase your first home or make a move up. The stars of low interest rates, many homes to choose from and a stable price environment are lining up to create an exceptional opportunity. Those who wait for the exact bottom of the market may wistfully look back at this time and wonder why they didn’t see the opportunity.
Employment surges higher in March – Todd Hirsch, ATB Economics
Had this morning’s jobs report come one week earlier, it would clearly have appeared to be an April Fool’s Day joke, especially given the province’s current economic woes. But according to the latest Labour Force Survey, a whopping 19,000 jobs were added in March—the highest monthly advance in employment in over two years.
With the gain in employment, the province’s unemployment rate plunged from 7.9 per cent in February down to 7.1 per cent in March—matching the national average for the month.
The news gets even better—and more surprising. Of the 18,900 new jobs, the vast majority of them (14,500) were full-time positions. And the sector that had been losing thousands of positions—the resource sector—actually eked out a small gain in total employment for the month. The only sector that continued to suffer major job losses was manufacturing (-7,900).
It is difficult to explain the surprising advance in Alberta’s job market, particularly since there has been nothing else to suggest that the economy is showing signs of recovery. The only way to understand the data is to remember that the jobs report is survey research—it provides only an estimate. From month to month those estimates may undershoot or overshoot, and it’s dangerous to read too much into one single month. Taking a longer time perspective, Alberta’s job market is less surprising—fewer people are working than a year ago, especially in oil and gas.
Today’s job report was encouraging, but it’s still far too soon to call the downturn over.