Canada typically has big differences in the job market from region to region, but these days, those differences are shrinking thanks to a job boom that’s helping out almost every part of the country.
“Regionally, job gains remain relatively widespread, with all but Manitoba posting growth from a year ago in June,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote in the bank’s latest Labour Market Report Card.
“And the spread between provincial jobless rates remains historically tight, suggesting more uniform conditions than we’ve been used to.”
The country added a very solid 132,000 jobs in the second quarter of this year, the strongest performance since 2010, when the economy was bouncing back from the financial crisis.
Watch: How Canada’s high house prices are impacting jobs. Story continues below.
It means that where you search for work might not matter as much today as it did a few years ago.
Even on the Prairies, where the oil slump continues to take a toll, some places are hiring. Regina, for instance, ranks as the fourth best place to look for work, having expanded jobs by 1.9 per cent over the past year.
Things aren’t quite as healthy in Calgary and Edmonton, where the jobless rate sits at 7 per cent and where job growth has largely stalled.
So despite the convergence, the fact remains that some job markets are still stronger than others. And some experts are saying this job boom won’t last: The country has created more jobs over the past few years than is justified by economic growth, so they’re predicting a pullback ahead.
Here are the country’s 10 strongest cities for jobs, according to BMO’s Labour Market Report Card for the second quarter of 2019.
Incidentally, Canada’s largest cities sat in the middle of the pack, except for Vancouver, which made the top 10, and Edmonton and Ottawa, which are near the bottom, ranking 24th and 27th, respectively, out of 33 cities.
10. Winnipeg, Man.
Last year’s rank: 26
Jobless rate: 5.2%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 2.5%
Winnipeg’s industrial sector is doing very well these days, as are its tech and digital media sectors. Food ordering app Skip the Dishes is reportedly hiring at a pace of 175 people a month. The city’s impressively low cost of living is a bonus, too, though the winters are not.
9. Kingston, Ont.
Last year’s rank: 28
Jobless rate: 4.6%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 3.7%
Kingston, you might say, has three employers: The prison, the military college and the university. But while half the city is employed in the public sector, there are private sector jobs as well, particularly in warehousing. Beware, though: Kingston is experiencing a housing shortage.
8. Halifax, N.S.
Last year’s rank: 6
Jobless rate: 5.2%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 4%
The largest city in Atlantic Canada has a burgeoning innovation economy. Yes, you just read “innovation” and “Atlantic Canada” in the same sentence. Increased immigration in the region has led to higher business confidence, and startups in the region are hiring like crazy. Young people are returning to the city, to take advantage of the available jobs and a lower cost of living than you can find in Canada’s larger metro areas.
7. Kelowna, B.C.
Last year’s rank: 11
Jobless rate: 4.4%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 2.6%
This city in the B.C. interior has an economy that’s heavy on agriculture and tourism, but it’s also well diversified for a city its size, with growing high tech and film industries and even an aerospace industry that’s hiring right now.
6. Vancouver, B.C.
Last year’s rank: 14
Jobless rate: 4%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 5.9%
British Columbia has been a job-creation powerhouse in recent years, and in Vancouver, high-tech and entertainment industry jobs are in particular demand. The outlook for retail jobs may not be so good, though, as the city is experiencing a slump in retail sales, which some experts are blaming on the high cost of housing.
5. Guelph, Ont.
Previous rank: 23
Jobless rate: 5.4%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 9.6%
Not all cities in southern Ontario have strong job markets right now (Peterborough and St. Catharines are relatively weak) but this city about 100 km west of Toronto is experiencing an economic boom, and it seems fairly widespread. The Conference Board of Canada says there is work to be found in transportation, warehousing, education, retail, trade, finance, insurance and real estate.
4. Regina, Sask.
Previous rank: 20
Jobless rate: 4.5%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 3.3%
Saskatchewan is still struggling with a downturn in commodity and energy prices, but its job market is showing signs of a comeback, with the province’s jobless rate hitting its lowest point in four years this spring. The rebound seems particularly strong in Regina, where the jobless rate dropped from 6.4 per cent to 4.5 per cent in a year.
3. Quebec City
Previous rank: 4
Jobless rate: 2.4%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 2.9%
Not surprisingly, Quebec City’s largest employer is the provincial government, but the city has a surprisingly diversified economy, with manufacturing, tech and defence industries particularly well represented. At 2.4 per cent, Quebec City has the lowest unemployment rate of any metro area in the country.
2. Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Ont.
Previous rank: 24
Jobless rate: 4.8%
Change in jobs in the past year: 6.6%
K-W is a high tech powerhouse, but lately its job situation has been helped by all the other industries in the area. According to ManpowerGroup, there are jobs in transportation, utilities, manufacturing, finance and insurance.
1. Brantford, Ont.
Previous rank: 29
Jobless rate: 4.7%
Change in jobs in the past year: up 17%
With its empty streets and boarded-up storefronts, Brantford wasn’t exactly the picture of economic health over the past decade, but the city’s manufacturing base is experiencing a renaissance. There are literally not enough people in the area to fill the available jobs, and employers are getting desperate. If you have factory floor experience, Brantford may be the place for you these days.