Hot Hamilton: Economic growth to outpace national average
A new Conference Board of Canada study says Hamilton’s economic surge will outpace the national average this year, but job growth will remain slow.
The board’s latest Metropolitan Outlook Report predicts the Hamilton-Burlington- Grimsby economy will grow about 2.2 per cent this year, outpacing the national growth rate for the second consecutive year.
The growth will be driven chiefly by improvements in the manufacturing and non-residential construction sectors.
Employment, however, will grow by only 2,800 jobs this year after advancing by 3,600 positions last year.
“I would characterize the outlook for Hamilton as generally positive,” said Alan Arcand, associate director of municipal studies for the Conference Board. “It’s not world-beating, but it’s still better than the national average.
“It really seems that some of the factors are turning in Hamilton’s favour,” he added. “Employment gains will be OK this year and next, but not great,” he said. “Growth in jobs is going to be fairly slow this year and next.”
Manufacturing growth will be led by companies such as water filtration firm Fibracast, and ArcelorMittal Dofasco — which is looking for 1,000 new employees to replace retiring baby boomers.
Predicted growth for this year will rank Hamilton as the 11th fastest growing metropolitan economy in the country.
To Mayor Fred Eisenberger, that’s a good position.
“It’s almost in the Top 10 and shows our growth has been consistent over the last few years,” he said. “The uptick on the manufacturing side is especially good news because that’s assessment we need to take the pressure off our residential taxpayers.”
He also liked the prediction that they city’s unemployment rate will come in below the national average.
“I think this all affirms the good vibes that people are feeling about Hamilton,” he said.
Frank McKeown, executive director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, said the study’s conclusions match the city’s projections.
“This is consistent with our observations for growth that will higher than the national average,” he said. “Almost everyone I talk to is looking at a growth environment.”
The Conference Board report says even with U.S. Steel moving a quarter of the potential production of its Hamilton plant to the United States, manufacturing output is forecast to grow by 2.4 per cent this year as the lower loonie makes Canadian exports more affordable and American demand rises as the economy south of the border improves.
Adding to that is a refocusing of Canada’s economy from western oil and other natural resources back to industry in Ontario.
The other major growth engine for Hamilton, the report concludes, will be non-residential construction, including a new general purpose and engineering centre at McMaster University and the second phase of the James Street North GO station.
Services output growth will remain steady at 2.1 per cent for a third consecutive year.
Article courtesy of Steve Arnold, The Hamilton Spectator