Regina tops list for labour market attractiveness

November 21, 2013 6:02 PM

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Calgary and Edmonton just behind Saskatchewan capital

CALGARY - The number of Canadians migrating between provinces has hit its highest level in almost a quarter century with employment prospects the biggest driver, according to a new report released Thursday by BMO Economics.

The study ranks the attractiveness of Canada’s regional labour markets as a destination and looks at what’s behind the movement of labour.

Regina tops a list of Canadian cities and regions for labour market attractiveness followed by Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon. The ranking was developed by looking at income, job prospects, housing affordability and tax burden of 19 cities or regions across Canada.

“While there are winners and losers, a mobile labour force isn’t necessarily a bad thing to the extent that resources are directed to where they are needed most,” said Robert Kavcic, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets.

“In terms of attractiveness as a place to move for work, Regina and Calgary top the list, with the highest median levels of employment income, among the lowest jobless rates and relatively low tax burdens,” said Kavcic. “However, Regina’s better housing affordability lifts the city into the top spot.”

Kavcic said that most migrants are headed to Alberta, where net inward migration has surged to more than 50,000 people over the past year, the highest on record and a hefty 1.3 per cent of the population.

“Saskatchewan is attracting people as well, and while the inflows are proportionally less significant than in Alberta, it’s a stark change after decades of outflows,” he said.

The BMO Economics report said migrants are coming mainly from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Proportionally, however, the biggest drain is in Atlantic Canada, where combined annual outward migration has reached 11,000 people, or 0.5 per cent of the population.

“Calgary continues to be an attractive destination for Canadian migrants is due to its high demand for labour and its continually increasing quality of life. People are confident that when they move to Calgary they will be able to find work as well as a city that they are happy to call home,” said Adam Legge, president and chief executive of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

Median income for the top three cities is: Regina, $70,500; Calgary, $79,300; and Edmonton, $68,200.

The jobless rate is: Regina, 3.5 per cent; Calgary, 4.9 per cent; and Edmonton, 4.7 per cent.

Annual employment growth is: Regina, 6.0 per cent; Calgary, 2.7 per cent; and Edmonton, 3.3 per cent.

Average home prices year-to-date: Regina, $311,400; Calgary, $434,000; and Edmonton, $342,100.

Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment: Regina, $861; Calgary, $989; and Edmonton, $900.

“Calgary is an attractive market for Canadians,” said Ben Brunnen, a Calgary economic consultant. “Alberta GDP has grown by at least four per cent each year since 2010, while most provinces west of Manitoba have been lucky to grow by two per cent.

“Structurally, the Canadian economy is favouring resource development in Western Canada, and the interprovincial migration numbers show this. In Calgary, incomes are high, unemployment is low and housing affordability is reasonable. In addition, our quality of life and natural endowments are unmatched across cities in the Prairie provinces, which makes Calgary a very favourable place to live and work.”


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