Though general economic uncertainty looms over the community, Sault Ste. Marie’s gross domestic product is expected to rise by 0.7% this year, followed by 0.9% in 2017.
That’s the forecast from the Conference Board of Canada in its report titled Economic Insights Into Seven Canadian Mid‐Sized Cities. Released yesterday, the publication can be viewed online at www.conferenceboard.ca/e‐library/abstract.aspx?did=8091.
“The outlook is positive, but it comes after a significant decrease in total employment in 2015 due, in part, to a struggling manufacturing sector,” said Tom Dodds, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “Our employment level is expected to climb this year, which is a positive finding, but the fact remains that our economy has a fair ways to go before we can expect to see significant and lasting gains.”
An uptick in the transportation and warehousing sector, along with growth in non‐residential construction, is expected to lead local GDP growth. Output in the construction sector is poised to rise by 0.8 per cent in both 2016 and 2017. A number of major public sector development projects are taking place. These include the continued work on the new Canadian customs plaza, campus rebuild plans at Sault College, and major renovations at the former Alexander Henry and St. Basil high schools. As well, the first phase of the redevelopment of the Port of Algoma is now complete.
Labour market data from Statistics Canada also reveals positive trends for Sault Ste. Marie this year.
However, it follows a discouraging 2015, which saw the lowest employment figures in two decades. The total employment level for 2016 year‐to‐date is 33,917, up from 33,400 last year, and unemployment is at 8%, down from 9% in 2015.