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Metropolitan Housing Markets Stabilize; Job Markets Still Weak

Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies
December 7, 2009

Housing markets appear to be on the mend in Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs), but the job markets in most CMAs have not yet rebounded. These divergent results from the Conference Board’s Metropolitan Monthly Monitors should not be a surprise, since labour markets are usually the last part of the economy to recover following a recession.

Launched in November by the Conference Board’s Centre for Municipal Studies, the Metropolitan Monthly Monitors provide short-term trends and long-term outlooks for housing starts, resale housing, and new job postings, covering more than 25 CMAs.

Near-term employment prospects are down in 15 CMAs, stable in three, and up in only nine.

Housing Starts: Has the Bottom Been Reached?

Short-term expectations remain negative for 18 of the 27 CMAs (based on residential permit data), but the market may have finally hit bottom. Over half of the CMAs recorded more housing starts in October 2009 than in October 2008.

In this new monthly publication, each CMA is positioned in a quadrant, based on short- and long-term expectations for its housing market. Expectations in eight CMAs—Trois-Rivières, Kingston, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, London, Windsor, Saskatoon, and Victoria—are looking up in both the short and long terms. Another six cities—St. John’s, Saint John, Montréal, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, and Ottawa—are in the down quadrant for both short- and long-term expectations.

Resale Housing Activity on the Mend

Both resale volumes and existing home prices were higher than the levels recorded one year earlier in 24 of the 28 markets last month. Rising sales-to-listings ratios over the past six months in 19 markets suggest that decent price increases may lie ahead. Already, price growth is at or above its long-term average in 16 of 28 markets.

Labour Markets Not Yet Out of the Woods

Near-term employment prospects are down in 15 CMAs, stable in three, and up in only nine, according to the Conference Board’s November issue of the Metro Help-Wanted Index.

Only one of the nine CMAs with positive employment growth prospects—Regina—is located in Western Canada, suggesting the recovery is more in its infancy in the once-booming West.

The Help-Wanted Index is based on the seasonally adjusted number of new, unduplicated jobs posted online during the month across 79 job-posting websites. The indices are available at the national, provincial, and metropolitan levels. The Help-Wanted Indices and the Indicators of Labour Market Tightness are available from May 2005.

Mario Lefebvre Mario Lefebvre
Centre for Municipal Studies

Metropolitan Monthly Monitors: Metro Help-Wanted Index November 2009
Metropolitan Monthly Monitors: Metro Resale Index November 2009 
Metropolitan Monthly Monitors: Metropolitan Housing Starts November 2009

Related Publications
Metropolitan Outlook 1: Economic Insights Into 27 Canadian Metropolitan Economies: Autumn 2009
Metropolitan Outlook 2: Economic Insights Into 27 Canadian Metropolitan Economies: Summer 2009
Help-Wanted Index: November 2009
Canada's Residential Construction Industry: Industrial Outlook Summer 2009