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Companies that take one or more products and create new products from them are part of the manufacturing industry. These companies may be smelting ore into iron or using that iron to create machinery. Manufacturers refine petroleum, process beets into sugar, or make dog food. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, a national trade and industry association, reported that in 2015, Alberta's major manufacturing sectors were petroleum and coal products (21.4%), chemical products (17.7%), and food products (20.0%).

GDP Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the overall size of an economy. In 2015, manufacturing made up 5.9% of Alberta's GDP. This represents a 1.3% decrease from 2013.

Alberta’s GDP
Decrease from 2013.
  • food and beverages
  • petroleum and coal
  • chemicals, plastics, and rubber
  • textiles and clothing
  • computers and electronics
  • tobacco products

The manufacturing industry employed 139,900 people in 2015. This is a decrease of 2,800 jobs (2.0%) from 2013.


104,900 men worked in the industry in 2015 (down 1.3% from 2013).


35,000 women worked in the industry in 2015 (down 3.8% from 2013).

Average Wage
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2015 hourly wage of $29.38 for the manufacturing industry was above the provincial average of $29.06.
Industry Performance

The top three manufacturing export sectors in 2015 were chemicals (especially synthetic resins such as polyethylene), food and beverages, and machinery. However, the downturn in the province's oil and gas industry meant a corresponding decline in demand for Alberta's manufactured products in 2015. The weakened performance of the American industrial sector and the drop in drilling across the continent contributed to this. In 2015, this meant a 13.8% drop in sales, to $68.1 billion.

The food manufacturing industry, which grew by 4.4% between 2013 and 2015, has been a bright spot. Some of this is attributable to the weaker Canadian dollar and stronger U.S. demand for Alberta food products. The income growth of consumers in emerging markets has also led to more demand for Canadian food products.

Industry Outlook

As oil prices recover, the provincial government expects manufacturing shipments to move upward again. An increase in investment in plastics manufacturing will allow the Joffre polyethylene plant expansion to begin operating in late 2016. Furthermore, the province believes that its 2016 Petrochemicals Diversification Program may lead to the construction of two to three new facilities in Alberta, increasing manufacturing opportunities. Any approved pipeline expansion would also bring more manufacturing jobs.

In 2017, construction begins on the $10 million expansion of the Food Processing Development Centre and Agrivalue Business Incubator in Leduc. The facility works with 80 to 100 companies annually to develop new food and beverage manufacturing prospects, and expects increased opportunities due to the expansion.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 1.1% from 2016 to 2019.

OCCinfo has more information about occupations in Alberta, including details about duties, working conditions, educational requirements, employment outlook, and salary ranges. You can also find reports on region-specific information about wages, job vacancies, and hiring difficulties in this industry. Visit the Survey Analysis to learn more.

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