St. John’s is the talk of the town — or, rather, the country. Major media outlets throughout Canada are marvelling at the city’s rich economy, in what was once considered the “poor cousin” among provinces.
Newfoundland’s jobless rate is still a bit high — hovering around 12 per cent — but the rate in St. John’s sank lower than all the long-time Canadian powerhouses such as Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, The Globe and Mail reported in August.
The unemployment rate in St. John’s then was 5.7 per cent. compared to Calgary’s 5.9 per cent, Vancouver’s 8.4 per cent and Toronto’s 8.5 per cent.
Companies in the capital report having trouble finding employees, the Globe noted, and some students are snapped up straight out of school.
“The situation now is a far cry from September 1984, when the jobless rate peaked at 22.7 per cent,” wrote The Globe’s Oliver Moore and Tavia Grant. “Through much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was above 17 per cent.”
Toronto Star business reporter John Spears visited the capital city last spring.
“Back in 1992,” he wrote, ”when the cod fishery was on its backside — and come to think of it, it still is — the corridors of Atlantic Place, the hulking … brick edifice that looms over Water Street, echoed with emptiness. No more.
“You can pick up your BMW from the dealership out on Kenmount Road, drive it downtown to the hot yoga studio on Duckworth Street and then relax a few doors away with some bubble tea.
“You can listen to business leaders fret about labour shortages — labour shortages! — in Newfoundland.”
Things have never been better for the metro region, yet the view from those living here seems a little less rosy.
According to an exclusive MQO Research poll released this month, only one-third of citizens in St. John’s and surrounding communities gave job opportunities a grade of 8 out of 10 or higher, where 10 means “excellent.”
More than a quarter gave it a middling grade of 7.
Jobs are in the eye of the beholder. If you have one you enjoy, the employment climate seems perfectly peachy. If you’re un- or under-employed, things look bleaker.
And even though statistics say otherwise, the local economy doesn’t seem to impress us much. Only 52 per cent of poll respondents felt the region has a “vibrant” economy, though few of the others gave it a failing grade.
In today’s paper, as part of a series of articles this week called MetroView, Telegram business reporter Daniel MacEachern takes a closer look at the MQO economy numbers and what they mean.