Mid-sized cities in Alberta keeping pace with fastest growing cities in Canada

OTTAWA, June 27, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Red Deer and Medicine Hat are forecast to post economic growth on par with prairie counterparts - Calgary, Regina, Edmonton and Saskatoon, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Mid-Sized Cities Outlook 2014.

"Alberta's mid-sized cities are benefiting from strong provincial energy sector activity. Their pace of growth is similar to and in some cases above, that of the larger centres in the province," said Alan Arcand, Associate Director, Centre for Municipal Studies.

HIGHLIGHTS  

  • Lethbridge's economy is expected to create about 3,000 jobs over the next two years.
  • Red Deer's economic growth averaged 5.2 per cent per year from 2010 to 2012; more moderate growth is expected going forward.
  • Medicine Hat's economy rebounded nicely from the 2009 recession, with real GDP increasing by an average annual rate of 3.3 per cent from 2010 to 2012.  

Red Deer's economic growth averaged 5.2 per cent per year from 2010 to 2012, and rose another 4.5 per cent in 2013. This year, economic growth is expected to be somewhat slower, but still strong, coming in at 3.5 per cent. Red Deer's economy will moderate further in 2015, as the primary and utilities sector and the services-producing industries continue to slow. The slower economic activity will lead to lower job growth over the next two years. Red Deer's economy is expected to create an average of 625 jobs per year over 2014 and 2015, about half the average pace of the 2010-2013 period.

Real GDP growth in Medicine Hat is expected to reach 2.8 per cent for the second year in a row in 2014. Improving activity in the city's services sector will offset slower — but still strong — growth on the goods side of the economy. Despite the continued solid economic growth, employment is expected to fall by nearly 10 per cent this year, as the job market gives back some of the surprisingly big gains in 2013.

Lethbridge's economy grew by 1.8 per cent in 2013, thanks to a banner year for crops. Output in the primary and utilities sector, which includes agriculture, surged by 7 per cent last year. While output growth in the primary and utilities sector is expected to slow this year, this will be offset by stronger growth in construction, manufacturing, and the services sector. The construction sector will benefit from a number of projects, including work at the Chinook Regional Hospital, the Lethbridge College's trade and technology centre, and the new police headquarters. At the same time, the weaker Canadian dollar is expected to improve the local manufacturing sector's fortunes this year. All together, real GDP is forecast to increase by 1.3 per cent in 2014 and by a further 1.5 per cent in 2015. As a result, the economy is expected to create about 3,000 jobs over the next two years.

The Mid-Sized Cities Outlook report also includes historical economic and employment data for 46 mid-sized Canadian cities. These data reveal that Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, has averaged annual economic growth of 8.4 per cent between 2010 and 2013.

As The Conference Board of Canada's Metropolitan Outlook - Spring 2014 indicates, prairie Census Metropolitan Areas will have the fastest growing economies in 2014. These include Calgary (3.4 per cent), Regina (3.3 per cent), Edmonton (3.1 per cent) and Saskatoon (2.9 per cent).

The Mid-Sized Cities Outlook provides economic forecasts for eight cities that contributed financially to the research - Lethbridge, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Brandon, and Nanaimo.

SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada

For further information: Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221, E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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