October 20, 2011
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The Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC) today released the 2011 edition of its flagship publication Tracking the Trends. The 128-page publication provides a detailed analysis of social and economic trends in Edmonton. Information is provided about population demographics, education and employment, living costs & housing, income & wealth, and poverty trends that together comprise the social health of Edmontonians. Featured the 2011 edition is an examination of Edmontons increasing diversity with data on immigration, racial and linguistic diversity trends at a City-wide and neighbourhood level.
Whether planning programs or developing policies, timely accurate
information is critical to informed decision-making, said Susan
Morrissey, the ESPCs Executive Director. The objective of Tracking
the Trends is to be a one-stop resource for identifying and analyzing a
broad range of social and economic trends in Edmonton, she added.
If theres an overarching message in this years Tracking the Trends,
its that Edmonton was strongly impacted by the economic recession that
recently gripped the rest of Canada and much of the rest of the world,
said John Kolkman, ESPCs Research Coordinator and report co-author.Kolkman highlighted several ways the recessions impact is reflected in Edmonton trends:
A steep rise in poverty in our community. The number of
children living in poverty in the metro Edmonton area jumped from 16,000
in 2006 to 41,000 in 2009 (p. 57);
Many people in Edmonton lost their jobs especially among
recent immigrants, youth and Aboriginal people (p. 16). This led by the
end of 2009 to a tripling of the number of Edmontonians drawing
employment insurance benefits (p. 65);
After a few years of increases beyond inflation, family incomes dropped in 2009 (p. 38);
There was also a significant increase in social assistance
caseloads (p. 64) and in food bank use (p. 30). These are also
indicators of economic distress.
Our community is not immune from the growing gap in incomes and
wealth, Kolkman noted. Income inequality between Alberta families has
increased steadily in the past 20 years, and took a further jump in 2009
during the recent recession (p. 52). In other words, Albertas economy
is lifting the yachts more rapidly than the canoes and the row boats.
Kolkman said the report also finds many positive trends:
In 2009, government income transfers reduced by 44% the number
of children that otherwise fall below the poverty line(p. 62);
So far in 2011, Edmonton job growth has been strong (p. 13);
Although it will soon be the lowest in the country, the
Alberta government recently lifted its freeze on the minimum wage (p.
There is steady improvement in educational attainment as
measured by high school completion. However, over one in five young
adults fail to complete high school within five years showing more
progress is needed (p. 10);
Despite the attention focused on the record number of
homicides in 2011, Edmontons overall rates for both violent crime and
property crime continue to decline (page 106).
Tracking the Trends 2011 also includes a special feature on
Edmontons increasing diversity (p. 70). Growing numbers on immigrants
and non-permanent residents is making Edmonton a more ethnically,
racially and linguistically diverse city. This increasing diversity
creates integration challenges but also many opportunities for Edmonton
in this rapidly globalizing and shrinking world, Kolkman emphasized.
Kolkman describes Edmontons track record in meeting integration challenges as largely a good news story. Among the highlights:
As immigrants get more settled, they tend to relocate from lower income to middle and higher income neighbourhoods;
The maps show that South Asians tend to prefer living in
Southeast Edmonton, and those of Arabic origins in North End
neighbourhoods. Overall, the data shows visible minority populations
live in neighbourhoods throughout the City;
Second generation immigrants are even more likely than their parents to live in neighbourhoods throughout the City; and
Neither immigrants or those from visible minority backgrounds
are disproportionately concentrated in lower income neighbourhoods.
Tracking the Trends 2011 combines 25 key indicators into a Social
Health Index (p. 111). Edmontons economic roller coaster is reflected
in the index which peaked in 2008, declined sharply in 2009, began
recovering in 2010, with further recovery projected for 2011. The bottom
line is a 17.7% improvement in Edmontons social health since 1995,
For more information contact:
, Research Coordinator
(780) 423-2031 x 350