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Montreal gets its tone back

Despite labor shortages, high office building vacancies, and telecommuting still affecting downtown traffic, economic activity in Greater Montreal has regained pre-pandemic momentum and even registered new peaks, particularly in terms of the employment rate that reached, last April, a record level of the last 15 years on the Island of Montreal.

We often have the impression that darkness still hangs over the Montreal sky, a perception that is no doubt explained by the perpetual state of disorganization of its road network, continually afflicted by the appearance of new works and new obstacles and the undue extension of work in progress for many months. We have the distinct impression that we will never see the end of this.

Again this week, the Ministère des Transports and the city of Montreal released the list of summer construction sites that will spread across and around the island. No fewer than 85 major construction sites will further complicate the already difficult lives of motorists who have to pass through Montreal.

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

The work of the REM, last May

We are talking about a 40% increase in the volume of work compared to last year, when the Jacques-Cartier bridge, the Louis-H. -La Fontaine and the Metropolitan Highway will be hindered and that the continuation of the construction of the REM will continue to generate its share of detours…

Despite this painful and distressing reality, economic activity in Montreal seems surprisingly protected against these circulatory limitations.

In a document recently produced by the Montreal Metropolitan Community, we see that the economy of Greater Montreal is running at full speed and is even in a better position than at its peak in 2019, before the pandemic.

Of all the regions of Quebec, it is that of Greater Montreal that has registered the strongest rebound in the employment situation since the pandemic, which allows it to be today at the highest point of the last ten years.

The situation has become especially entrenched in private knowledge services (professionals, finance, engineering, information technology, video games, artificial intelligence, etc.) where the employment rate is significantly higher than in 2019. The same is true of public and parapublic services, where job creation in the fields of health and education brings us back to a peak of the last ten years.

After a slight decrease in 2020, the number of jobs in the private knowledge services sector has reached new records, which has not yet happened in transport where the very gradual recovery of air traffic and the difficulties of the supply chain supply have slowed down the recovery movement. .

The situation in the manufacturing sector is encore three légèrement in delay par rapport à ce qu’elle était in 2019 in raison des aléas de la chaîne d’approvisionnement, mais elle est sur le point de surpasser les sommets qu’elle avait atteints three years ago.

Even the island bounces

Surprisingly, the employment rate is now higher on the Island of Montreal than in the larger metropolitan area that includes the North and South Crowns. The island has a record employment rate for the last 15 years.

According to Sylvain Giguère, chief economist at the Montreal Metropolitan Community, who compiled this economic data, economic growth is so strong that it continues to support job creation despite labor shortages.

“It is on the island of Montreal where the knowledge service companies that have most benefited from the dynamism of this sector of activity are concentrated. Manufacturing companies that automate their processes also become more productive. Only in the consumer sector can we not recover the advantage and we are still today well below the employment levels of 2019.

“In 2020, many workers hesitated to accept a position, many have returned to the market and we realize that regardless of the unemployment rate, whether it is low or high, the number of vacancies remains high, it is what is called the Beveridge curve, ”, says the economist.

Finally, while the vacancy rate for office buildings in the Montreal metropolitan area is at its highest level in the last 20 years, close to 17%, it is the complete opposite of what we see on the assets side. industrial roots that recorded its lowest rate. since 2000, very close to zero…

“The data shows us that in order to pursue the economic development of Montreal, we will have to better manage the economic space by rethinking our industrial parks in particular, strengthening the innovation ecosystem, developing skills and, finally, accelerating the energy transition”, points out Sylvain Giguère. , of the CMM.

A finding that recent economic statistics for Greater Montreal fully confirm.


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