February 6, 2013
Construction Employment Up in Only 13 of Canada’s 33 Largest Cities
The table below records construction employment levels in Canada’s 33 largest population centres, according to Statistics Canada.
The cities are ranked by year-over-year percentage changes, highest to lowest.
Since the data is unadjusted for seasonality, only year-over-year comparisons are valid. Dramatic weather swings from one season to the next in Canada can affect the month-to-month numbers as much as the market. (The November 2012 results are shown in the table only to provide a little more perspective.)
It’s probably fair to say that the construction employment numbers are most affected by housing starts (with a lag) and large engineering projects, although individual high-storey office buildings and mega hospital projects can also contribute significantly. Likewise for major entertainment projects such as new sports arenas or stadiums.
Some of the more interesting highlights from the numbers below are as follows.
Edmonton (+16.2% December 2012 versus December 2011) recorded a high rate of construction employment growth, but the number of Calgary’s construction jobs declined (-10.6%). Just the same, at the end of last year, both cities had almost exactly the same number of workers in the construction industry, 72,900 for Edmonton and 72,400 for Calgary.
It’s also interesting to note that both Calgary and Edmonton achieved almost exactly the same number (9,300 units seasonally adjusted and annualized) of housing starts in 2012, with identical year-over-year percentage increases (+38%).
Toronto recorded a record-high volume of home starts in 2012 (48,100 units seasonally adjusted and annualized) and also saw start-ups on some major facilities for the 2015 Pan-Am Games. But the number of workers engaged in construction in the city fell 5.8%.
The total number of workers in construction (180,800) in Toronto in December 2012 was almost as high as the nation’s next two largest cities added together, Montreal (90,300) and Vancouver (105,400).
Montreal achieved a high rate of change in “grand total” employment in December 2012 versus December 2011, +5.2%, to rank third behind Saskatoon (+5.8%) and Abbotsford (+5.4%). The city’s overall advance in “hires” was given a boost by jobs in construction (+22.3%).
Ottawa-Gatineau ranked 10th nation-wide in total employment gain (+2.8%) in December 2012. Jobs in construction (+23.7%) played a major role in that overall increase.
Vancouver’s slight total employment increase (+0.5%) in December 2012 versus December 2011 was mirrored in the city’s construction sub-sector (+0.3%).
Winnipeg’s overall jobs market (+0.8% more positions year-over-year in December 2012) was helped by an increase in on-site construction workers (+2.8%).
Only 13 of the 33 cities in the table below recorded year-over-year percentage increases in the latest month. Declines (20) were in the majority. The underlying numbers (i.e., the levels) behind the percentage increases still managed to lift the 33-city total construction employment number by 1.7%.
There’s one final point to consider. The cities are only one portion of the total construction employment scene in Canada. About half-again as many workers toil on resource sector and other mostly civil projects (e.g., highways) in rural and remote regions of the country.
33 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)
(three-month moving averages - not seasonally adjusted)
Y/Y % Change
|dec 2011||nov 2012
|dec 2012||Year-over-year (Y/Y)
|6||Thunder Bay, ON||3.6||4.9||4.3||19.4%|
|14||St. Catharines-Niagara, ON||14.1||14.6||14.0||-0.7%|
|15||St. John’s, NL||9.2||9.3||9.1||-1.1%|
|26||QuÃ©bec City, QC||22.7||19.8||20.1||-11.5%|
|30||Saint John, NB||6.1||4.5||4.2||-31.1%|
|Sum of all cities||840.7||867.0||855.3||1.7%|
Tables: Reed Construction Data, CanaData.