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Economists release 2017 forecast for Alberta, job seekers hopeful

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WATCH ABOVE: Business and economic leaders met in Calgary Tuesday, to unveil the outlook for next year. As Mia Sosiak reports, economists say we've hit the bottom of the oil price slump, and that's great news for job seekers – Nov 8, 2016

Business and economic leaders met in Calgary Tuesday, unveiling an economic outlook that suggests Alberta has hit the bottom of the oil price slump.

What’s more, experts suggest Alberta’s economy is changing and that the days of $100 oil are over.

According to Statistics Canada, at least one in 10 Calgary workers are now unemployed.

Theresa Stecewicz is one of them.

She was among 300 Calgarians laid off by ConocoPhillips last September.

“I’ve been laid off twice from the oil and gas industry so now I need to find something a little more stable, a little more secure for the long term,” Stecewicz said.

Fortunately for Stecewicz, the job market outside oil and gas looks slightly better for 2017. Experts forecast one per cent growth.

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“It will really be kind of the new economy,” Glen Hodgson, a senior fellow at the Conference Board of Canada said. “It won’t be so much the old energy patch, so much as the public sector and more innovative parts of the economy growing a little bit.”

When oil first slumped, many companies waited a few months to cut jobs. Economists suggest those same companies are likely to be wary and will take extra time to re-hire.

“They want to make sure they are in good fiscal shape before they start bringing back a lot of people, even slowly,” ATB’s chief economist Todd Hirsch said. “So that’s why we think there’s going to be a lag coming out of it – probably about an eight-month lag.”

READ MORE: Edmonton economy takes a hit in third quarter of 2016 

Calgary’s mayor, meanwhile, is focused on selling the city at home and abroad.

“If you’ve been priced out of downtown Calgary all this time, now you can sign a long term lease at a very affordable rate in downtown Calgary, but more importantly, you can hire amazing people,” Naheed Nenshi said.

That seems to have attracted some head office relocations to Calgary, with two more still to be announced.

“I can’t talk about them right now because they remain confidential, but both of those deals are signed,” Mary Moran, the CEO of Calgary Economic Development said.

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Wendy Fry also lost her job at ConocoPhillips last September. She said she feels nervous, but hopeful about the economic forecast for Alberta. For now, she’s exploring her options outside the energy industry and hoping to land something soon.

“It will come back to us,” Fry said. “[It] may not be exactly the same as what we’re used to, but I think it’s going to be a great place all over again.”

With files from Mia Sosiak

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