Cities among economic leaders Regina, Saskatoon ranked second, third on CIBC index

Courtesy Regina Leader Post

Regina ranked second and Saskatoon third in CIBC's latest metropolitan economic activity index, thanks to strong population and job growth, according to CIBC Metro Monitor released Tuesday.

"Both Regina and Saskatoon were able to maintain their high ranking, reflecting rapidly growing populations and job markets that are still expanding," Benjamin Tal, CIBC senior economist, said in the report.

"Both cities also enjoy very low unemployment rates as well as extremely low rates of both business and consumer bankruptcies," Tal added.

Saskatoon ranked first and Regina fifth in population growth in the third quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year. Similarly, Saskatoon ranked first and Regina seventh in employment growth during the same period.

Saskatoon also had the lowest unemployment rate (Regina was third-lowest), while Saskatoon and Regina had the lowest and second-lowest consumer bankruptcy rates respectively.

Both cities also scored well in home sales (Saskatoon second and Regina fourth) and non-residential building permits (Regina second and Saskatoon seventh).

Slow and steady may be a winning economic formula, at least for Halifax, which topped the list of the 25 cities surveyed by CIBC for the first time.

The ranking "was achieved despite the fact that the city did not lead the nation in any of our macro categories, reflecting its relatively diversified sources of economic growth and reduced vulnerability to economic shocks," said Tal.

The number of cities on the index whose economic activity is on the decline has doubled to 10 since the first quarter. Most of those are in Ontario and Quebec, a sign of continued weakness in the manufacturing and forestry sectors and a strong Canadian dollar.

Sherbrooke, Que., was in fourth place while St. John's, N.L., was fifth.

The index, released twice yearly, measures economic activity based on economic variables including population growth, employment levels, consumer and business bankruptcies, housing sales and starts and non-residential construction.

While Vancouver is doing better than Calgary and Edmonton, it ranked 12th in the third quarter, "its worst performance in years."