January 29, 2019 11:54 am

Perception vs. reality: some Calgarians feeling negative about economy despite ongoing recovery: study

A new study released by the University of Calgary Tuesday says some Calgarians feel the economy has not improved despite evidence to the contrary.

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Calgarians harbour negative views of the provincial economy, according to a study released by the University of Calgary on Tuesday.

The study’s findings show a pessimistic outlook among surveyed Calgarians despite official data showing that the economy is doing well and that the province will see modest growth in 2019.

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The survey of 748 people was conducted between Nov. 14 and Dec. 13 in each of 2017 and 2018. Researchers interviewed the same 748 people in each of those years.

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The questions were exactly the same for both years and the answers showed more pessimism for 2018, the study said.

Two thirds of the respondents felt the local and provincial economies had gotten worse in the past year in 2018, compared with half of the respondents in 2017.

The feeling extended to the national economy as well, with respondents saying that it had gotten worse, the study said.

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Perception vs. reality

It may be a case of perception versus reality and that can matter a lot when it comes to government policy, the study’s authors say.

“It affects the kinds of things people want the government to prioritize, so that shapes the economy indirectly,” said Jack Lucas with the University of Calgary School of Public Policy.

“People’s expectations matter a lot for the way they behave in the economy so if you think the economy is getting worse or doing poorly, you will act differently than if you think you are in good economic times.”

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Official data shows the recession began 2014 and ended in 2016. In 2017, the economy started strong but the pace of recovery weakened, the study’s authors said.

“Calgary and Alberta’s economic recovery continues, though the pace of growth has slowed through 2018. Employment for most workers is rising, and is approaching pre-recession levels, but young Calgary workers appear to be left behind,” the study said.

Average weekly earnings of $1,115 are the highest in Canada and Alberta’s total economic activity (through GDP) is the highest in any province.  The labour market has recovered roughly two thirds of recessionary losses, the study said.

Still, Lucas said these negative views could have political ramifications, as people tend to take out economic frustrations on politicians, especially during elections.

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