A CMA, as defined by Statistics Canada consists of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a population centre (known as a core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the core.

Metropolitan areas play an important role in economic development and are often key centres of trade and innovation. Large cities also help to attract migrants seeking job opportunities and desiring a high concentration of retail and cultural amenities.

There are four CMAs in Alberta:

  • Calgary
  • Edmonton 
  • Lethbridge
  • Red Deer

There is limited data available for the Red Deer CMA.


Alberta CMAs are growing

The Calgary CMA is the largest CMA in Alberta and the fifth largest in Canada, while the Edmonton CMA is the second largest in Alberta, and the sixth largest in Canada. Over the past 5-years, the Calgary CMA led the province in growth at 3.2%. Migration has been the largest contributing factor to the increase in Calgary's population. It captures most of the migration from international sources, while also gaining from migratory movements both from within Alberta and from other regions across Canada.


Share of employment by industry for CMAs

The wholesale and retail industry employs the most number of people across all CMAs in Alberta. The Lethbridge CMA has a relatively large proportion of employment in healthcare, social assistance and educational services. The Calgary CMA has a higher share of people employed in the professional, scientific and technical industry, while the Edmonton CMA has a higher share of manufacturing and construction employment.


Industry values expressed as the percent share of total employment in the chosen CMA.

Lethbridge has the lowest unemployment rate

Alberta has historically experienced volatility in its unemployment rate due to the prominence of the oil and gas industry. Over the past ten years, Lethbridge’s unemployment rate has remained consistently lower than the Edmonton and Calgary CMAs and the Alberta average.