Calgary is renowned as a Canadian oil and gas sector powerhouse, as well as a pioneer in economic progress. Its strong personal and family incomes, low unemployment, and high GDP per capita have all benefitted from higher sales and prices as a result of a resource boom, as well as improved economic diversification.
Calgary benefits from a reasonably robust employment market in Alberta, and it is part of the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor, one of the country’s fastest expanding areas. Numerous large oil and gas corporations have their headquarters here, and many financial service businesses have sprung up around them. Small company and self-employment rates are also among the highest in the country. It also serves as a distribution and transportation center and has a large retail sales volume.
Calgary’s economy is becoming less dominated by the oil and gas sector, yet it remains the city’s single greatest contributor to GDP. Calgary’s real GDP (in constant 1997 values) was C$52.386 billion in 2006, with oil, gas, and mining accounting for 12% of the total. BP Canada, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy, Encana, Imperial Oil, Suncor Energy, Shell Canada, Husky Energy, TransCanada, and Nexen are among the larger oil and gas companies, with the city home to 87 percent of Canada’s oil and natural gas producers and 66 percent of coal producers.
In 2010, the city had 618,000 people working (a 74.6 percent participation rate) and a 7.0 percent unemployment rate. In 2006, the unemployment rate in Toronto was 3.2 percent, one of the lowest among major Canadian cities, resulting in a lack of both qualified and unskilled employees.
In 2010, the “Professional, Technical, and Management” Industry accounted for more over 14 percent of employment, while employment levels in “Architectural, Engineering, and Design Services” and “Management, Scientific, and Technical Services” much outnumber those in Canada. Despite the fact that trade employs 14.7 percent of the workforce, its share of overall employment is not larger than the Canadian average. Construction employment is quite substantial, above Canadian norms, and grew 16 percent between 2006 and 2010. Health and welfare services, which account for 10% of employment, have expanded 20% throughout that time.
Shaw Communications (7,500 workers), Nova Chemicals (4,945), and Telus (4,945) were Calgary’s top three private-sector employers in 2006. (4,517). Mark’s Work Wearhouse, the Calgary Co-op, Nexen, Canadian Pacific Railway, CNRL, Shell Canada, and Dow Chemical Canada rounded out the top 10. The Calgary Zone of Alberta Health Services (22,000), the City of Calgary (12,296), and the Calgary Board of Education were the leading public sector employers in 2006. (8,000). The University of Calgary and the Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School Division rounded out the top five public-sector employers.
Calgary boasts Canada’s second-largest concentration of head offices (behind Toronto), the most head offices per population, and the greatest head office income per capita. Canada Safeway Limited, Westfair Foods Ltd., Suncor Energy, Agrium, Flint Energy Services Ltd., Shaw Communication, and Canadian Pacific Railway are among the major employers with headquarters in Calgary. CPR relocated their headquarters from Montreal in 1996, and Imperial Oil relocated from Toronto in 2005. The Bow, EnCana’s new 58-story corporate headquarters, has become Canada’s tallest skyscraper outside of Toronto. The city became the corporate headquarters of the TSX Venture Exchange in 2001.
WestJet’s headquarters are near Calgary International Airport, while Enerjet’s are on the airport grounds. Prior to their demise, Canadian Airlines and Air Canada’s subsidiary Zip were both based near the airport. Although the primary headquarters is now in Yellowknife, Canadian North, which was bought from Canadian Airlines in September 1998, continues to operate and charter from Calgary.
According to an Avison Young research issued in August 2015 by Alexi Olcheski, vacancy rates increased to 11.5 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from 8.3 percent in 2014. In downtown Calgary, oil and gas companies are subleasing 40% of their total vacancies. The Bow Tower, a 58-story, 158,000-square-metre highrise owned by H&R Real Estate Investment Trust, claims to be completely leased. Tenants like Suncor “have begun laying off employees and contractors in reaction to the slump.”