Thursday, January 12, 2012

Western cities to top Canadian growth, while austerity to bite in east

Cities in Western Canada will lead the country in growth and prosperity over the next couple of years, according to an outlook released Wednesday by the ConferenceBoard of Canada.

Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Regina are at the top of the Ottawa-based economic forecaster's new metropolitan outlook.

Next year, Vancouver joins the leaders and Toronto ties Regina for fifth place in the outlook.

The ConferenceBoard says western cities are benefitting from resource riches and attracting migrants, boding well for housing and consumer spending

Edmonton created almost 40,000 new jobs last year alone, the think-tank says.

"In spite of global economic turmoil, high prices for agricultural products, minerals and oil are likely to continue," said Mario Lefebvre, director of municipal studies for the ConferenceBoard.

"Canada's Prairie cities will reap the benefits of this global demand for commodities."

Central Canadian cities won't do nearly as well with manufacturing continuing to struggle amid the global slowdown, and government cutbacks weighing on growth domestically.

The ConferenceBoard says the federal government's austerity measures for the civil service will result in a cumulative loss of 9,000 jobs over two years, restraining Ottawa-Gatineau's growth to 1.8 per cent in 2012.

Top 10 cities and ties in terms of expected growth for 2012 are:

Saskatoon, 4.0 per cent
Calgary, 3.6 per cent
Edmonton, 3.4 per cent
Regina, 2.9 per cent
Oshawa, Ont., 2.7 per cent
Toronto, Trois-Rivieres, Vancouver, 2.6 per cent
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Windsor, 2.5 per cent

At the bottom of the list in terms of growth this year is St. John's, N.L., the ConferenceBoard says, as Newfoundland and Labrador's waning offshore oil production starts rippling through the rest of the economy.

The consolation prize is that St. John's is coming off two spectacular years of growth, including a 5.4 per cent advance in 2011 that was highest in the country.

Read it on Global News: Western cities to top Canadian growth, while austerity to bite in east: report

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