OTTAWA, March 3, 2016 /CNW/ - Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières can expect to see better economic growth in 2016 than in 2015. However, gains will be fairly modest, ranging between 1.6 and 2.1 per cent, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Metropolitan Outlook: Winter 2016.
"The economies of Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières are gaining traction this year thanks to the ongoing recovery of the manufacturing sector, driven by a healthy U.S. economy and the low loonie," said Alan Arcand, Associate Director, Centre for Municipal Studies. "Sherbrooke's outlook is the brightest among the three—its economy is expected to advance by 2.1 per cent this year, matching the provincial average."
- Sherbrooke's economy is expected to expand by 2.1 per cent in 2016, matching the provincial average.
- Trois-Rivières and Saguenay are both expected to post real GDP growth of
1.6 per cent in 2016.
- Vancouver's real GDP is forecast to grow 3.3 per cent, making it the fastest growing economy among the 28 census metropolitan areas covered in this edition of the Metropolitan Outlook.
Sherbrooke's real GDP growth is predicted to hit 2.1 per cent in 2016, matching the provincial average for Quebec. The weaker loonie, combined with the healthier U.S economy, will provide a lift to the export-oriented manufacturing sector, which is set to expand by 2.8 per cent in 2016. Businesses services will be another key growth driver for the local economy, thanks to strong demand for engineering, research and development, and programming work. On the construction front, weaker housing market activity will be offset by a strengthening non-residential sector. Some of the projects that will fuel this segment include the expansion of the Soucy Techno plant, the new René Lévesque Boulevard, and a residential and commercial project in Waterville. Still, output growth in Sherbrooke's construction industry is projected to slow from 1.4 per cent in 2015 to 0.3 per cent in 2016. The area's job market has been booming—4,700 jobs were created in 2014 and an additional 3,300 jobs were added in 2015. But given that this pace of job creation is unsustainable, our forecast calls for about 2,000 job losses this year.
Saguenay's economy struggled in 2015, as global demand and prices for aluminum dropped. But things are looking up, especially with the $1.2 billion Arianne Phosphate mining project set to begin construction in the spring. Although the project is outside the metropolitan area, Saguenay should benefit from some of the project's spin offs. At the same time, thanks partly to the low Canadian dollar and healthy U.S. economy, the manufacturing sector is expected to post its first increase in output in a decade this year, although gains will be limited to just 0.5 per cent. A similarly paced expansion is anticipated for the construction sector this year, driven by a solid rise in the number of housing starts. Finally, services sector output growth is forecast to improve from 1.3 per cent in 2015 to 1.9 per cent in 2016. In all, real GDP is forecast to expand 1.6 per cent in 2016, about double the rate of growth in the previous four years. Likewise, employment is also set to bounce back with a 1.6 per cent gain in 2016, following a drop of 1.8 per cent last year.
Trois-Rivières is expected to enjoy its strongest economic growth since 2008, as real GDP is set to expand by 1.6 per cent this year. A string of investments is driving growth in the manufacturing and construction industries; most notably, the development of the Bécancour industrial park, which includes the construction of an $800 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, and a plant by Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. to process ore from the company's rare-earths mining project at Strange Lake in Northern Quebec. Other projects providing a lift to the local economy include the expansion of current businesses such as Marmen, Biotechnologies Ulysse, Automantra, FAB 3R, and Hardy Filtration. In all, manufacturing output is projected to expand by 1.2 per cent in 2016, while construction output is forecast to expand by 1 per cent. Despite the stronger economic growth, employment is forecast to contract by 0.9 per cent this year, as the job market gives back some of the surprisingly big gains it recorded in 2014 and 2015.
Released today, Metropolitan Outlook: Winter 2016, is The Conference Board of Canada's once-a-year analysis of 28 Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs).
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