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01-06-2007, 07:31 AM
Labour-market activity hottest in Edmonton
Capital city gaining ground on Calgary

CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, June 01, 2007

Edmonton is gaining ground on Calgary in economic momentum, according to a report by CIBC Worlds Markets.

In its semi-annual Metro Monitor, CIBC says Calgary topped the list of 24 of the most populated areas in Canada.

Calgary was assigned a score of 33.2, which was based on indicators such as employment, housing and bankruptcy rates. Edmonton was a close second with 31.4.

"The strong performance of Calgary is not a big surprise given the booming Albertan economy," the report says.

"But perhaps a more interesting observation is the fact that Edmonton is closing the performance gap with Calgary.

"Edmonton is ranked second in our index, reflecting strong population growth (second only to Calgary), and a labour market that is, in fact, hotter than that of Calgary. The housing market in Edmonton is also strong with average price rising the fastest among all cities," the report says.

Calgary was the top area in terms of population growth and the proportion of jobs that are full-time, and it had the lowest level of consumer bankruptcy.

"Everybody's looking at Calgary, but the labour market in Edmonton is actually hotter," said Benjamin Tal, a senior economist with CIBC World Markets. "If you look at the housing market, (Edmonton's) stronger (than Calgary). If you look at population growth, (Edmonton's) second only to Calgary."

Rounding out the top five spots were Canada's three largest cities, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, in that order in terms of economic momentum.

The report says that while "Vancouver did not excel in any of our sub-categories, it was able to perform above average in many of them."

Montreal was said to have a "notable improvement in labour-market activity," but still lagging in non-residential building permits and housing starts.

Saskatchewan's two biggest cities were listed high, with Saskatoon at No. 6 and Regina at No. 7. Saskatoon was cited as having the best job market and resale housing market in the country.

Ottawa-Gatineau was in the middle of the pack this time in the No. 12 spot. Tal said the national capital region's momentum has declined due to a slowing housing market, less robust technology industry and struggling manufacturing sector. Windsor, Ont., was near the bottom of the list at 22nd with a score of 3.4. Tal said the city was hurt by the state of the automotive sector, manufacturing in general and the struggling U.S. economy it borders on.

Two areas -- Thunder Bay, Ont., and Saguenay, Que. -- were assigned negative scores, minus-0.9 and minus-2.9, respectively. The high-valued Canadian dollar and struggling manufacturing industries were cited as factors in each case.

Conspicuous by its absence in the survey was Winnipeg, which was left out because officials there were unwilling to disclose necessary information.

The Edmonton Journal 2007