Kingston lone bright spot for job cre­ation: study

Kingston Whig-Standard - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE LOWRIE

Al­most all the jobs cre­ated in On­tario since the 2008 re­ces­sion have been in the Toronto and Ot­tawa ar­eas, leav­ing east­ern On­tario and other parts of the prov­ince with close to zero job growth, ac­cord­ing to a new study by the Fraser In­sti­tute.

The in­sti­tute’s fig­ures show that the hot mar­kets of Toronto and Ot­tawa area ac­counted for 98.6 per cent of the net new jobs in the last nine years, mean­ing the rest of the prov­ince saw few new jobs or ac­tu­ally suf­fered de­clines.

“In other words, if the rest of On­tario out­side of Toronto and Ot­tawa is taken as a whole, there has been al­most no job cre­ation at all since 2008,” the study said in its bleak assess­ment of the em­ploy­ment pic­ture.

When you look at On­tario as a whole, the prov­ince has dragged be­hind the rest of Canada in eco­nomic growth since 2003, show­ing an av­er­age an­nual in­crease of only 0.5 per cent a year – half the na­tional av­er­age, the study cal­cu­lated. The fig­ures are even worse since 2008 when the av­er­age was 0.3 per cent, the in­sti­tute says.

On­tario was only able to reach that tepid per­for­mance level be­cause of the rel­a­tively ro­bust Toronto and Ot­tawa, the fig­ures in­di­cate. If you sub­tract those ar­eas from the mix, the eco­nomic pic­ture is even more trou­bling.

“While On­tario as a whole has suf­fered from weak eco­nomic per­for­mance in re­cent years, the eco­nomic pain in the prov­ince has not been spread evenly,” say the study’s au­thors, Steve Lafleur and Ben Eisen. “In fact, the prov­ince’s eco­nomic per­for­mance has been un­even ge­o­graph­i­cally, and some re­gions of the prov­ince have suf­fered sig­nif­i­cantly more than oth­ers.”

One of those re­gions to suf­fer is east­ern On­tario, which in­cludes the larger ur­ban ar­eas of Kingston, Peter­bor­ough and Corn­wall as well as such smaller com­mu­ni­ties as Brockville.

The bright spot in east­ern On­tario (out­side of the Ot­tawa re­gion) was Kingston, which ex­pe­ri­enced a mod­est 4.4-per-cent net job growth be­tween 2008 and 2016. But that rel­a­tively good news story was off­set by a five per cent de­crease in job cre­ation in Peter­bor­ough and an as­tound­ing 33-per-cent col­lapse in jobs in Corn­wall since 2008, the study shows.

The study blames the de­cline in man­u­fac­tur­ing for the drop in job cre­ation. Man­u­fac­tur­ing de­clined three per cent in Peter­bor­ough and 1.3 per cent in Kingston, which ac­counts for the city’s av­er­age per­for­mance. The au­thors didn’t have the man­u­fac­tur­ing stats for Corn­wall, but they sus­pected that the de­cline in man­u­fac­tur­ing to be a vil­lain in that city’s job stats as well.

Turn­ing to the un­em­ploy­ment pic­ture in the big three east­ern On­tario cities, the re­port found the num­bers more en­cour­ag­ing than the job cre­ation statis­tics. Corn­wall’s fig­ures con­tin­ued to be wor­ri­some with its 2016 un­em­ploy­ment rate at 8.1 per cent be­ing 1.5 per cent higher than be­fore the 2008 re­ces­sion. But Kingston and Peter­bor­ough’s job fig­ures were rel­a­tively good – they were sta­ble in Kingston and even fell in Peter­bor­ough.

The au­thors didn’t in­clude the statis­tics for ru­ral east­ern On­tario or such small com­mu­ni­ties as Brockville.

The au­thors spec­u­late that the re­gion’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion might ac­count for the rel­a­tively slow job growth.

In Kingston and Peter­bor­ough, for ex­am­ple, the per­cent­age of jobs in the health care and so­cial as­sis­tance field grew to 17 per cent from 15 in Kingston and to 18 per cent from 14 in Peter­bor­ough.

Kingston owes its more sta­ble em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion to its higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions, the mil­i­tary and cor­rec­tions fa­cil­i­ties, the study said.

IAN MA­CALPINE/WHIG-STAN­DARD FILE PHOTO

Kingston and the Is­lands MP Mark Ger­ret­sen, left, MPP So­phie Ki­wala and Kingston Mayor Bryan Pater­son speak dur­ing the Greater Kingston Cham­ber of Com­merce Po­lit­i­cal Break­fast at the Delta Kingston Water­front Ho­tel on Feb. 15, 2017.

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