Canadian City Job Trends Outpacing National Average

Whether one looks at the recent monthly figures, or the five-, 10- or 15-year trends, most of Canada’s major cities have seen jobs growing faster than the national average.

This is intriguing. Canada’s economic growth is heavily dependent on resource extraction–whether oil, natural gas, lumber, coal or copper. This activity takes place far from most major cities, save for Edmonton (and even Edmonton is a 2-3 hour journey from the nearest oil sands project).

This urban job growth demonstrates how much overall economic development resources generate–and the more knowledge intensive nature of this activity in the 21st Century. The oil sector is no longer a pump pulling liquid from the ground and putting it in a tanker car.

Instead, Calgary office towers are filled with accountants, lawyers, engineers, more engineers, financing specialists, construction and project managers, etc. etc. all working directly or indirectly on energy-related activity in Alberta, BC and around the world. The Oil Sands are a brain-intensive activity. Forestry and coal, are less changed from their historic roots, but their influence drives employment in Vancouver, the hub for companies and for exports. The wealth this generates then flows through the economy as people buy homes, go to restaurants, and partake in cultural events.

In Toronto, the head offices of these legal and accounting firms provide further support. Moreover, in Canada’s economic hub shares are traded, mortgages for the vast workforce in Alberta processed, etc. As the strong energy economy bolstered the Canadian dollar following the 2009 recession, Canadian banks (Toronto based) went on a foreign acquisition spree, generating more employment.  If one excludes the structural change in manufacturing in the GTA, Toronto has been growing (job wise) almost as fast as the juggernauts in the West.  This can only be attributed to its connection to the resource sector–as a hub of financial and other business activity.

My conclusion: there is a symbiosis between Canada’s major cities and Canada’s continued place in the global economy providing raw resources. ALthough the cities have other sectors that don’t rely on resources–like software–these do not compare in terms of economic impact to the resource sector.

Anyone have a different explanation?

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