Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina are expected to top the growth sweepstakes among Canadian cities in 2014 – no surprise, given that they’re located in resources-rich provinces whose finances are in good shape.
But, according to a recent report from Toronto-based Toronto-Dominion Bank‘s economics department, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg also are expected to do a little better than the national average.
Toronto’s forecast is the biggest surprise, given Ontario’s dismal finances and the negative impact of the high value of the Canadian dollar on the province’s manufacturing sector. However, the city also has a large financial services sector, which is robust and growing.
Vancouver and Winnipeg also have sizable financial services companies and generally diverse economies.
The TD report also credits diverse economies as reasons for how well Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina are doing. The report notes, for example, that Edmonton will benefit from its “outsized” construction sector.
TD has created an industrial diversity index, which shows that Calgary, Edmonton and Regina have the most diverse economies; even Saskatoon has above-average diversity. Other diverse economies include Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Saint John, N.B. – the last of which isn’t experiencing a growth rate similar to the others.
Indeed, Saint John is the biggest laggard and is expected to grow by only 1% this year. The city also had the highest unemployment rate among the major cities in July, at 10.9%. All the other cities, except Toronto (7.8%) and Montreal (8.2%), were below the national average of 7.2%.
The TD report says Saint John has “little momentum going for it.” The only light on the horizon is the improving U.S. housing market, which should give a boost to New Brunswick’s forestry industry and “lead to positive trickle-down effects” throughout the province.
On the other hand, St. John’s is doing fine. That city’s unemployment rate is only 6%. The 1.1% gross domestic product growth that the TD report expects for 2014 follows the estimated 4% the city will experience this year as a result of the jump in offshore oil production. The report notes that the next big increase in oil output is expected to come in 2017, when the Hebron project goes into production.
Other cities expected to struggle somewhat are those with large government sectors in which deficit-fighting is cutting public-sector employment – specifically, Victoria, Ottawa/Gatineau and Quebec City. It’s noteworthy, though, that these cities have relatively low jobless rates, with Quebec City at 4.8%, Victoria at 5.8% and even Ottawa at 6.7%, which is still half a percentage point below the national average.
Halifax also has a large public sector. This not only includes a large university sector – including Acadia University, Dalhousie University, King’s College, Mount St. Vincent University and St. Mary’s university – but the provincial government has done its heavy lifting and returned to a surplus fiscal position. The city’s jobless rate is only 6.3%, and the TD report notes that the scheduled cuts in Nova Scotia’s portion of its HST to 9% from 10% in 2014 and to 8% in 2015 should give consumer spending a boost in the province.
Montreal’s story is not as rosy. The TD report notes that the jobless rate remains high despite a labour market that “has been performing well in terms of job creation over the past 12 months.” The city’s home prices were up by an average of only 0.6% in July vs a year earlier; the TD report expects little change over the next year.
The TD report also expects little change in house prices next year in Quebec City and Saint John, and lower prices in Toronto and Ottawa/Gatineau. There is no forecast for St. John’s.
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