Buried among all the other bad news in StatsCan’s latest jobs report is some particularly bad news for Toronto: The city dubbed Canada’s economic engine now has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country.
The Toronto area has seen its unemployment rate jump from 7.8 per cent last summer to 8.4 per cent in December, using StatsCan’s three-month moving average. Only the Niagara/St.Catharines region, at 8.8 per cent, fared worse.
For December alone, Toronto area unemployment was at 8.9 per cent. Stripping away the suburbs and looking just at the city of Toronto, the situation looks even more grim. A city report says its unemployment rate is 10.1 per cent -- a double-digit rate more commonly seen in the Maritimes or Ontario’s rust belt than in Canada’s largest city.
The overall unemployment rate for Canada is 7.2 per cent.
“A slowdown in home building, provincial budget restraint, weakness in manufacturing and ongoing robust population inflows have all played a part in pushing up the local jobless rate versus the rest of the country,” BMO economist Doug Porter wrote in a recent client note.
Porter noted that, incredibly, Toronto now has a higher unemployment rate than Windsor, the southwest Ontario city that has been suffering for years due to troubles in the auto industry.
Toronto’s job problem is already weighing on Mayor Rob Ford, who yesterday insisted that the city is “booming.”
Ford wouldn’t use the word “unemployment” at a press conference Tuesday, the Toronto Star reports, but when pressed on the joblessness situation, the mayor said: “It is booming. Toronto is booming today. We’re a global powerhouse.”
The Star noted Ford took credit for Toronto’s job situation last summer, when unemployment stood at 7.1 per cent.
“This is proof that my administration is on the right track,” Ford said.
But some city councillors noted that taking credit for job growth is a knife that cuts both ways.
“Following [Ford’s] own logic, if the unemployment rate is up, then he would be directly responsible for that, too. He’d be to blame,” centrist councillor Josh Matlow said.
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