The issuance of building permits is akin to a sign in the tea leaves for economists. Builders and developers take out permits on projects they’d like to start in the coming months. That strongly suggests future spending on construction materials and stimulates the labour market for skilled trades.
Over the last twelve months, the value of anticipated construction spending in Alberta has increased by 9.9 per cent over the previous period, reflecting strong demand by both home builders and large project developers. Nationally, the statistics show movement in the opposite direction.
“Contractors took out $6.0 billion worth of building permits in March, down 3.0 per cent from February,” says the Statistics Canada release. "The March decline followed an 11.3 per cent decrease the previous month.”
Alberta’s jump in non-residential permits in March was led by commercial projects in both Edmonton (+$48 million) and Calgary (+$27 million). There was also a gain of $57 million in institutional and government projects in Edmonton. Residential building permits were unchanged, but some of that may be a rebound from the dramatic surge in housing permits in January and late last year.