Later this week Mayor Brian Bowman delivers his last State of the City address before Winnipeggers go to the polls on October 24, 2018. Chamber members are hoping to hear the Mayor speak to a variety of issues, but what is the state of our economy?
This past week the Conference Board of Canada released their 2018 outlook for 13 major Canadian cities. One standout from the report is Winnipeg’s economy expanded by 3.7% in 2017, the highest rate in close to 20 years. While economic growth is expected to slow to 2.2% in 2018, that growth rate is still largely in line with the forecasted rates for other prairie cities.
Driving that growth was strength in both the labour and construction markets. Over 7,000 net new jobs were created last year in Winnipeg, and the various construction projects around our city also helped stimulate growth. Also last year housing starts topped 5,500, the highest rate in 30 years.
In 2018 Winnipeg is again forecasted to create over 7,000 jobs. However slowdowns in the construction sector and lower consumer spending partially caused by higher interest rates are expected to be a drag on growth. However the 2.2% growth rate forecasted for 2018 is in line with what the City has averaged over the past 20 years.
Looking a little farther ahead, the Conference Board also predicts that Winnipeg will grow by over 50,000 people in the next five years. While we are still decades away from being a city of a million plus people, it is imperative that we start planning for that growth now.