“Sluggish” and “subdued” are two words the Conference Board of Canada uses to describe the Ottawa-Gatineau economy, which was outperformed by every other major metropolitan area in Canada except Victoria in 2012-13.
That’s largely the result of efforts to balance the federal government’s budget that resulted in job losses in public administration and reduced spending on goods and services from local suppliers and contractors.
Meanwhile, the construction sector keeps chugging along as low mortgage rates continue to fuel demand for new homes, keeping housing starts close to the 10-year average, according to the Conference Board. While that’s expected to taper off in the coming years, the nonresidential sector will remain strong as work continues on Ottawa’s light-rail transit line, widening the Queensway and expansions of several shopping centres.
The tech sector is another local bright spot, with employment growing and several firms landing high-profile clients and large funding rounds.
Overall, Ottawa-Gatineau’s unemployment rate sits roughly 45 basis points above the mean and median rate over the past four years.
The number of people working in Ottawa-Gatineau reached an alltime high in January 2013. That had declined 3.3 per cent by November, but the labour market in the National Capital Region has since staged a modest recovery, adding some 6,400 positions in the first half of 2014.
Real GDP growth
Source: Statistics Canada / Conference Board of Canada