T.O. tops in economic growth

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Toronto’s economic growth – helped along by a booming real estate sector – has once again topped the chart for Canadian cities, as measured by CIBC.

The Canadian Metropolitan Economic Activity Index ranks Canadian cities on various economic growth factors, with the results for the third quarter of 2011 out today. And while Toronto was not ranked first in any specific measure, its overall prominence near the top in most categories left it well above most Canadian cities.

Toronto scored 23 in the third quarter, followed by Edmonton at 20, Kitchener at 18, Halifax at 16.8 and Vancouver at 15.5. The score is based on several macroeconomic variables, and focuses on the 25 largest metropolitan areas in Canada.

Real estate continues to act as an important driver for Toronto, said CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal in his latest Metro Monitor Report.

“At only 1.4 per cent, the apartment vacancy rate (in Toronto) is currently at a 10-year low, while non-residential construction activity has already reached pre-recession levels,” Tal said.

Toronto’s population is up 3.9 per cent compared to 2.5 per cent nationally, and job figures are similarly above the national average. Overall, the city’s index ranking is its highest level in more than 10 years, and Toronto has ranked in the top five for more than six consecutive years.

Halifax also benefitted from a strong real estate market. Tal noted housing starts rose well above 40% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2011 in Halifax.

Vancouver, however, is starting to feel the effects of a slowing real estate market on its overall economy, despite continued population and job growth.

“The city continues to enjoy above average population growth, while the pace of job creation and level of employment quality are well above the national average,” said Tal of Vancouver. “While improving recently, the unemployment rate is relatively high, just one tick below the national average, while the pace of real estate activity is starting to slow.”

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