It’s a lousy time to be an Albertan, no matter what line of work you’re in. Natural gas prices are the pits, hence low drilling rates and skeletal rig crews. Houses? No one’s building them, so don’t count on a drywalling gig. Topping it off, with a nod to John Steinbeck, is this summer’s drought, which has put an awful dent in agricultural production. That mishmash of rottenness has now led RBC Economics to issue a report calling this downturn as bad as Alberta’s seen since 1982, when high interest rates, low commodity prices and of course the NEP conspired to crush Alberta’s economy. At the Calgary Herald reports, RBC “has revised its real GDP forecast for 2009 down to -2.8 per cent from the -2.5 per cent in the June outlook.” The upside? The report also forecasts “growth of 3.0 per cent for the province in 2010,” thanks to better weather, more robust commodity prices and more consumer spending. That must hearten the folks at Holt Renfrew, who are still busy installing an enormous store in Calgary’s downtown, where word of the recession has in many respects still not arrived.