Northern Economist 2.0

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Recent Labour Force Numbers for Northern Ontario Are Not Pretty


Last week’s labour force numbers for Canada from Statistics Canada were seen as a bit of a shock given that employment fell by 88,000 in January. Part-time employment declined (-137,000), while full-time employment was up (+49,000). At the same time, the unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.9%.  Ontario also declined by about 51,000 jobs and much of the loss was due to part-time work.  So how does northern Ontario compare when recent labour force estimates are looked at?

 
The accompanying figure looks at employment growth for northeast and northwest Ontario compared to Ontario and Canada between December 2017 and January 2018.  Whereas Ontario and Canada saw employment drop by just over one half of one percent, total employment in the northeast declined 2.4 percent while in the northwest it fell by 1.8 percent.  As well, the losses were more driven by full-time employment as it dropped 2.5 percent in the northeast and 2.3 percent in the northwest.  All one can hope is that the January numbers are a short-term aberration because northern Ontario saw its employment drop more than either Ontario or Canada and the northeast seems to have been hit harder.

Population Growth Results: Thunder Bay and Sudbury at the Bottom


Statistics Canada has released its recent sub-provincial population estimates for 2016/17 and the results find that population is still growing faster in the Prairies well as parts of Ontario but the two major northern Ontario CMAs are not in the pack.   According the Statistics Canada, the 10 CMAs with the highest population growth in 2016/2017 were in either the Prairies or Ontario. In 2016/2017, the population growth rate was 2.0% or higher in four CMAs: Saskatoon (+2.8%), Regina (+2.4%), Guelph (+2.2%) and Ottawa–Gatineau (Ontario part) (+2.2 and were followed by Toronto (+1.9%), Oshawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary (+1.8% each), and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+1.7%).  The figure below shows the picture pretty clearly.

 

At the bottom of the rankings are Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Saguenay.  Sudbury is third from the bottom with a population increase of only 0.1 percent.  The population decreased in the Saguenay (-0.2%) and Thunder Bay (-0.1%) CMAs for the fourth consecutive year with Saguenay’s population decrease partly attributable to out-migration of young adults aged 18 to live elsewhere in Quebec. In Thunder Bay, the number of deaths surpassed the number of births, and has done so since 2006/2007, contributing to its population decline. 



Sunday, 11 February 2018

Economics News Around the North: February 11th Edition


Well, traveling in winter is never much fun and this weekend I was in Montreal for the Fraser Institute Student Seminar Series and my way back has been affected by snow and freezing rain and assorted other things.  Still, there is always time to blog so here are the economic news stories that have caught my attention over the last little while with respect to northern Ontario economic affairs.


Well, this makes a lot of sense.  I recall speaking on a Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce panel last spring where I made a similar remark that it was time to plan for a new span across the Kam River.  I suppose Thunder Bay City council is gambling that they can get something for nothing by getting CN to maintain the bridge but it would be forward looking to plan and line up the funding for a new modern bridge.  Best case scenario – they could end up with two bridges.  How’s that for infrastructure!


This is a good news story not least of which is that 40 jobs from the crew base are coming to Thunder Bay but because it bodes well for the development of Porter’s air network.  With a crew base in Thunder Bay, Porter can use Thunder Bay as a mini hub perhaps for an expansion west to Winnipeg or a link through Chicago as part of it existing network.  Porter is innovative and service oriented and a great alternative to Pearson. They are also adding a 7th daily flight out of Thunder Bay to Toronto. This weekend reminded me why I rarely fly out of Pearson.

In other transportation news, it would appear air travel is big in northern Ontario. North Bay is also getting some aviation jobs. I guess 40 is a magic number for airlines as it is expected that 40 jobs will be created here also.

Voyageur Airways receives $2.7 million to expand,” North Bay Nugget.ca, Fe. 9, 2018.

In other news…

Business confidence Drops in northeast: survey” Sudbury Star, Feb. 10th, 2018.

Apparently, less than a fifth of businesses in northeastern Ontario are confident in Ontario’s economic future according to this Chamber of Commerce annual report. This was reinforced by regional data, as the Business Confidence Survey reveals that nearly half of northeastern Ontario businesses expect their organization’s revenue to stay the same over the next 12 months.

It could be that the Canadian economy is finally slowing down given the recent numbers from Statistics Canada.


While Canada lost 88,000 jobs and Ontario and part time workers were heavily affected, it is only one month’s data – January – and you would need several months more before you could argue a trend was underway.  However, Thunder Bay and Sudbury saw their unemployment rates remain pretty much the same with Sudbury remaining at 6.8 percent and Thunder Bay dropping slightly from 6.1 to 5.8 percent.  However, as I have noted previously, the unemployment rate in northern Ontario is not the best indicator of job growth given the shrinking labour force.  Indeed, even the Sudbury Star noted that while Sudbury’s unemployment rate stayed at 6.8 percent, it nevertheless shed 800 jobs.

In Ring of Fire news, the saga continues.


Timmins is trying to boost tourism as is the Sault.



As so economic life goes on in northern Ontario. Have a great week!