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The Best And Worst Cities In Canada To Find Work

Places like Toronto and Ottawa are making gains, while small cities are sliding, on BMO’s job market report card.
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If you’re looking for work in Canada, you couldn’t have picked a better time.

The job market has rarely looked this strong in data sets going back more than 40 years: youth unemployment is near a record low; labour force participation is picking up; and part-time jobs are being converted into full-time employment.

Still, where you look for work makes a big difference in a country as diverse as this one. So where are the best places to find work these days? The answer is Brantford, Ont., Ottawa, and Kelowna, B.C., according to the latest labour market report card from the Bank of Montreal.

BMO Economics

“The top of our city ranking is looking diverse, but bigger cities from each region are moving to the top,” BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote in a client note he titled “Move to the City.”

“For example, Ottawa, Calgary, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver all sit in the top 11. Smaller (metro areas) have moved down the leaderboard.”

Ottawa took second spot in the rankings, perhaps no surprise given the hiring that goes on in the city around election season. But the city’s high-tech economy has been humming as well.

Watch: Canada’s most in-demand jobs for 2019. Story continues below.

Central Canada may be the place to be right now. Ontario and Quebec did much of the hiring in the third quarter of this year, Kavcic noted, with the two provinces adding 138,000 jobs between them in the space of just three months.

“In both cases, that’s a top-five all-time performance. Each has seen a sharp increase in their labour force, with growth running at roughly 16- year highs,” Kavcic wrote.

British Columbia, which had led job growth in Canada for several years, is slowing down, with job growth slipping to 1.3 per cent over the past year. It had been running upwards of three per cent not long ago.

That may have to do with the slowdown in Greater Vancouver’s housing market, which seems to have put the brakes on consumer spending in the province. All the same, Vancouver itself isn’t suffering too badly; it rose one spot in the rankings to 11th place.

One notable poor performance came from Edmonton, which dropped from first place to 26th. The city has shed 1.6 per cent of all its jobs in the past year, and the jobless rate has jumped a full percentage point, to 7.3 per cent.

The government-reliant capital of Alberta saw a switch from the governing provincial NDP to the cost-cutting United Conservative Party. And the province’s oil slump continues.

At the very bottom, in 33rd place, is Trois-Rivieres, Que., which lost 6.6 per cent of all its jobs in the past year. The jobless rate there has been on the rise, but the city also has an aging population, so it’s seeing its labour force shrink.

BMO Economics
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