Ottawa Ranked #1 in Labour Market Attractiveness

July 31, 2018

A new ranking from Bank of Montreal (BMO) looked at economic statistics from Canadian cities to determine the best places to find employment and affordable housing.  When they compared the rankings to the winners from five years ago, they noticed some telling changes. See the HuffPost article for a table that displays the full ranking of regional labour market attractiveness.  Ottawa is ranked #1.  Ottawa is described as having gone through a few weak years, economically, “before a wave of federal government hiring set the economy in motion,” BMO says. The city boasts the highest median household income in the country and “home prices remain decidedly affordable despite accelerating recently.”

HuffPost reports that economists at the bank ranked 20 cities and Prince Edward Island according to the strength of their job markets, housing affordability and taxes. BMO’s “ranking of labour market attractiveness,” as the report calls it, is purely data-driven. BMO ranked “labour market attractiveness” with variables that included median household income, job growth and home prices in the city, plus rental rates.

BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic explains that “There are two key reasons to move –  To find a job, if you don’t have one; or to take a better-paying job, if you do.”

BMO found “a few stark changes” from the same ranking five years earlier. Back in 2013, the list was dominated by cities in Western Canada, which were benefiting from an oil price boom. Today, things look decidedly different.  The two top cities in the rankings — Ottawa and Quebec City (ranked #2) — are both government towns, and the Western Canadian city hanging in there, at fourth place, is Edmonton — another government town.

Vancouver, which fell to 17th place in 2018 from 11th in 2013, “ranks well down the list despite some of the best labour market metrics in the country. Housing affordability holds the city back in a major way (less so in the also-attractive Victoria market),” BMO noted.  Toronto fell from ninth place in 2013 to 19th in 2018 — only P.E.I. and St. John’s rank lower.  The beneficiary of Toronto’s low ranking appears to be Hamilton (ranked #3), which in recent years has attracted a flood of Torontonians looking for more affordable housing options. That has boosted the city’s fortunes, and its place in the BMO rankings.