BLOG: Cost-of-living anxiety grips Alberta

Albertans worried about falling out of the middle class or never making it in

The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has commissioned a poll exploring Albertans’ attitudes on inflation, the cost of living and other issues. This is the first installment in a five-part blog series that summarizes the results.

The cost-of-living crisis is hitting Albertans hard.

Six in ten (58%) say their standard of living has fallen over the past two years. Three-quarters (74%) are either “worried” or “extremely worried” about the rising cost of living.

That level of anxiety is even higher for women, young people, low-income earners, people with high school, college or trades education, people who describe themselves as working class and people living outside the two big cities.

This anxiety is leading Albertans to alter their household spending habits. Large majorities have cut spending on clothes and consumer goods (86%); cut back on going to restaurants and other outings and entertainment (86%); cut back on the food they buy at the grocery store (79%); and have turned the heat down or turned off lights (77%).

Perhaps surprisingly, only 27 per cent of Albertans have asked for a raise at work to compensate for rising costs. Ironically, the lowest-income Albertans are the least likely to have asked for a raise.

41 per cent say they have looked for better paying work. But, among younger workers aged 18 to 29, that number rises to 68 per cent.

Among Albertans who describe themselves as middle class, 67% say that they’re either very worried or somewhat worried that the rising cost of living will make them fall out of the middle class.

The situation is even grimmer among Albertans who describe themselves as working class. Among that group, which constitutes 35 per cent of the population, 93% say they are either very worried or somewhat worried that the rising cost of living will prevent them from ever having a middle-class standard of living.

There is no doubt that the mood in Alberta is very dark, right now. The question is: will governments and employers offer any relief? Or will this anxiety continue to grow and fester?

The Alberta Federation of Labour commissioned Environics Research to conduct an online panel-based survey of 1,002 Albertans, 18 years of age and over. The survey was conducted between March 27 and April 10, 2024, and the survey data was weighted by region, age cohort, gender and past provincial vote to match census and electoral data. Since this was not a random probability-based sample, a margin of error cannot be calculated. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20.