Less than a week after Statistics Canada’s July jobless numbers revealed a slight dip in the London and St. Thomas unemployment rates, a new report paints a positive picture for economic growth in a number of Ontario communities–including London.
On Wednesday, the Conference Board of Canada released Metropolitan Outlook: Summer 2016, predicting GDP growth above two per cent for “most” Ontario cities this year, with the Forest City groomed for continued improvements.
“London’s economy is expected to maintain its positive momentum in 2016,” the report says. “The manufacturing sector will continue to be one of the key drivers of the region’s growth. Moreover, the outlook for the construction sector remains favourable, as housing starts are forecast to reach 2,360 units this year–a 12.2 per cent increase over last year. Given this solid economic backdrop, the Conference Board expects employment to climb by 0.8 per cent this year, which is on top of the 3.5 per cent increase recorded in 2015.
For London specifically, the report predicted a GDP growth of 2.4 per cent this year, which is not only above the provincial average, but also an improvement over the last two years, which would mark London’s best three-year economic performance since 1998-2000.
London’s unemployment rate is expected to drop from 7.2 per cent to 6.1 per cent by 2020, which would put London in a better position than the last several years.
A spokesperson for the Conference Board of Canada said that part of the success can be attributed to a slight rebound in the manufacturing sector due to Canada’s dollar performance.
“The weaker Canadian dollar and moderate demand from the U.S. continue to provide a lift to many Southwestern and Eastern Ontario metropolitan economies and their respective manufacturing industries,” said Alan Arcand, associate director with the Conference Board’s Centre for Municipal Studies. “Unfortunately, this positive outlook does not extend to the two Northern Ontario cities in our report—Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay—both of which are expected to post lacklustre growth in 2016.”