The Conference Board of Canada’s 2016 Mid-Sized Cities Outlook Report shows stable growth in Lethbridge with strength in both traditional and emerging sectors.
Overall, with a GDP of nearly $5.8 billion, Lethbridge’s GDP increased 1.1% in 2015. And, with real GDP growth of 1.3% anticipated in 2016, Lethbridge will outperform the wider provincial economy thanks to strength in the agricultural industry and modest exposure to oil and gas.
|Lethbridge GDP Results and Forecast|
|GDP||$5.35 billion||$5.71 billion||$5.77 billion||$5.85 billion||$5.95 billion|
|GDP % Change||4.5%||6.7%||1.1%||1.3%||1.8%|
Note: GDP figures for prior years have been revised by the Conference Board of Canada to reflect enhanced accuracy.
From a sector perspective, Lethbridge experienced modest GDP growth in key industries such as Agriculture (2.3%) and Construction (1.0%), while the emerging Information and Cultural Industry experienced the highest sector growth at 3.4%. The report highlights this sector as a ‘bright spot’ locally, as industry output has grown an average of 4% annually during the last decade.
“We need to continue to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship as a way to maintain the relative economic stability in the Lethbridge region,” says Economic Development Lethbridge CEO Trevor Lewington. “It’s not to say we are without challenges as some of our industries did experience a downturn, however, with a dynamic mix of industry, a strong public sector and major construction projects planned through to the end of 2019, we have reason to be optimistic about our economic future.”
In terms of employment, it appears that this indicator is more unpredictable as an increase in jobs from 2014 (41,200) to 2015 (65,500) has proved to be unsustainable. Although employment numbers are expected to drop with a 16 percent decline in 2016, the actual unemployment rate is, perhaps, not cause for major concern. “A 5% unemployment rate is considered to be a balanced market with a reasonable number of opportunities vs. applicants,” adds Lewington. “When this number dips dramatically, we have seen the impact of low labour availability, particularly between 2005 and 2008, and the resulting negative impact on the economy.”
For the fourth consecutive year, Lethbridge has been part of The Conference Board of Canada’s Mid-Sized Cities Outlook Report. This information provides Canadian mid-sized cities with indicators of their economic situation and performance relative to the national landscape. Economic Development Lethbridge uses this comparative data to further define the competitive environment, interpret trends for the future and educate the community on why this matters from a business perspective.