Saskatoon to lead economic growth in 2011: Conference Board

Strong resource development, population increase give city a boost
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 05/06/2011

Four cities in Saskatchewan and Alberta will be the top economic growth leaders in 2011, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook.

“Buoyed by the resources and energy sectors, the economies of Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton will post noticeably stronger growth than the other cities covered in this report,” said Mario Lefebvre, director of the Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Municipal Studies.

The report provides a five-year outlook for 13 of Canada’s largest census metropolitan areas.

Saskatoon and Regina are benefiting from strong resource development in Saskatchewan, while healthy population growth is bolstering the housing markets in both cities, found the report. Saskatoon’s economy is expected to expand by 4.1 per cent this year and to remain among the growth leaders through 2013. Regina’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to rise by 3.1 per cent this year, found the report.

A promising outlook for the Alberta energy sector will be a boon for the Calgary and Edmonton economies. Calgary remains the services hub for the province’s energy sector and is forecast to post the second strongest economic growth rate (behind Saskatoon) at 3.4 per cent this year. Although the energy sector will bolster Edmonton’s outlook, the city's real GDP is forecast to increase by 3.1 per cent in 2011 — down slightly from its 2010 pace — due to more moderate growth in the construction, manufacturing and services sectors, found the report.

Following a strong post-recession rebound, all sectors of the Vancouver economy will grow at a slower pace this year. As a result, the city's GDP growth will moderate to 2.4 per cent in 2011. In Victoria, weak housing demand will limit GDP growth to 1.7 per cent in 2011.

After three years of declining output, Winnipeg’s manufacturing sector is on the road to recovery due to increasing demand in the aerospace industry. However, construction activity is expected to decline for the second straight year. Overall, Winnipeg’s GDP is forecast to rise by two per cent this year, found the report.

GDP growth in Toronto and Hamilton will slow to 2.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively, this year, due to the end of government stimulus spending and weaker gains in manufacturing output.

Economic growth in Ottawa-Gatineau will moderate to 2.2 per cent this year. The National Capital Region will feel the effects of a federal government departmental spending freeze, which will lead to a lower job count in the public service sector over the next few years.

Montreal’s economy is forecast to grow by 2.1 per cent this year, following a 2.8-per-cent expansion in 2010. Weaker global economic growth, combined with a slowdown in the housing market and tax increases (including the one-percentage-point rise in the sales tax rate) will keep a lid on economic activity the city in 2011, found the report. Montreal's economy is expected to improve in 2012 as the aerospace industry continues to recover.

Quebec City’s economy is also expected to expand more slowly this year than in 2010, as GDP growth is projected to reach 2.3 per cent.

With the post-recession surge over and the new homes market expected to weaken, Halifax’s economy is forecast to rise by a more modest 2.5 per cent in 2011, down from a 3.3-per-cent gain in 2010.

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