OTTAWA, Sept. 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Ottawa-Gatineau's economy is forecast post growth of just 0.7 per cent this year, before improving to 1.6 per cent in 2016, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Metropolitan Outlook: Fall 2015.
"Since federal government belt-tightening began in 2012, the National Capital Region has not seen annual growth above 1 per cent," said Alan Arcand, Associate Director, Centre for Municipal Studies. "However, with the federal government downsizing largely complete, and non-residential construction and high-tech services remaining areas of strength, we expect the economy to expand at its fastest rate in five years in 2016."
- Ottawa-Gatineau's real GDP will grow by 0.7 per cent in 2015 and by a much healthier 1.6 per cent in 2016.
- Reductions in public administration employment have been slowing the region's economic growth.
- The economy will continue to benefit from robust non-residential construction activity and positive momentum in the high-tech sector.
- Vancouver will be the fastest growing metropolitan economy in the country this year, while long-standing economic leaders Calgary and Edmonton face recession.
Since 2012, the federal government has tightly controlled spending to meet its budget targets. This has resulted in the elimination of thousands of federal public service jobs in the National Capital Region. In fact, by the time 2015 is complete, we estimate that 18,000 public service jobs will have been eliminated since 2013. But despite these cuts, employment remains about 6 per cent above its 2007 level. Moreover, we believe that the downsizing is largely complete, so public administration employment is forecast to start increasing next year, albeit very slowly.
Not surprisingly with the local economy struggling somewhat, housing starts are on track to fall to a 16-year low of 6,600 units this year, before climbing modestly to just 7,000 units next year. On the other hand, the area's non-residential construction sector is booming, headlined by the $2.1-billion light-rail transit project slated to continue through 2018, the $360-million to revitalize the Rideau Centre and $200-million invested at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Overall construction output is forecast to climb by 2.9 per cent this year and another 3 per cent in 2016.
Another bright spot for the region's economy is the information and communication technology services sector. Given the recent success of several local companies like Shopify Inc. and Ciena Corp., growth in business services output is projected to reach 0.8 per cent in 2015 before accelerating to 2.6 per cent in 2016.
With Ottawa-Gatineau's economy in its sluggish state, the job market has been similarly soft. Employment increased by an annual average of 0.9 per cent from 2012 to 2014 and is on track to climb by only 0.3 per cent in 2015 and by 0.6 per cent in 2016.
Of the 13 CMAs covered in the report, Vancouver will have the fastest growing metropolitan economy in 2015. Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, and Montréal round out the top five spots. These cities are all on track to post economic growth above 2 per cent. In contrast, long-standing economic leaders Calgary and Edmonton face recession.
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