Sudbury’s job growth stalled last month, sitting at 7.2 per cent for the second month in a row. The city has yet to see the benefits of a few major projects that will create hundreds of jobs, says a Laurentian University professor who posts monthly analyses of the city’s employment prospects.
David Robinson wrote that local leaders need to be more “creative” if the city is going to benefit from the boom in natural resources, as he compared job growth so far this year in Sudbury and Thunder Bay.
“Employment in Sudbury grew by 0.7 per cent over the year and was almost unchanged in May,” Robinson wrote on the INORD website. “The city is outperformingthe (rest of) province, but is not riding the resource boom as the western provinces are.
“Thunder Bay, on the other hand, has increased employment by 5.3 per cent over the year, although the current month is essentially flat.”
Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent. What especially impressed Robinson was Thunder Bay’s job performance, superior to red-hot Alberta, which is basking in the oil sands boom.
“Employment numbers are giving different signals to the two major cities of northern Ontario,” he wrote. “Sudbury's leaders need to know that the city is not riding this resource boom up. They will have to be much more creative than leaders in Thunder Bay, who are set to gain from large new mining plays in their region.
“Even though the chromite smelter for the Ring of Fire will be in Sudbury, Thunder Bay is better positioned to capture the benefits of development in the northwest, and that city has moved more ambitiously, making themselves the centre for development.”
Sudbury’s long-term prospects are good, however. The long-term picture includes the opening of the downtown school of architecture slated for next year, and the announcement last month that Cliffs Natural Resources will build its $1.8-billion smelter near Capreol, creating 450 construction and 450 permanent jobs.
Added to that are the benefits from Vale's $2-billion investment in its Clean AER Project, one of the largest environmental investments in Ontario’s history.
And the BMO financial group last week predicted that 4,000 new jobs will be created in Sudbury by 2016, with the jobless rate dipping below six per cent.
Such a big jump will touch virtually every sector of the economy, the report suggests — from the retail sector to the housing market, the ripple effect of resource sector investment in Sudbury will see the city's economy benefiting for years to come.
Although job growth remains modest now, “employment in Sudbury has recouped all of the declines suffered during the recession,” the report states.
Posted by Arron Pickard