Hard hat nation
John Greenwood – Financial Post
Look out over most Canadian cities and you see construction cranes dotting the skyline, dozens of them and maybe more if you live in Vancouver or Toronto, the epicentre of a building boom that has been gaining steam for the better part of a decade.
Primarily the activity is around condos but there’s also hospitals, roads, sports stadiums and office towers — not to mention Alberta’s oil sands.
As the rest of the world grapples with the European financial crisis and sluggish growth in the United States, the cross-country construction boom has been Canada’s ace in the hole, providing the key economic building block that has been so lacking around the world: jobs.
While the savage housing collapse in the United States has left employment in the construction down 6.7-million from its 2008 peak, the number employed in Canada has soared to a record over the past two years. Even after a 20,100 give-back in October as the labour market softened overall, employment in the sector stood at 1.257-million, just above the previous November 2008 high.
The boom, supported by low interest rates, has helped spur a virtuous cycle of job creation and consumer spending that has allowed the domestic economy to push ahead despite international turmoil.
“The great thing about construction is that it’s so local,” said Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central Credit Union 1, the main trade association for credit unions in British Columbia and Ontario. Unlike sectors like, say, banking or shipping where operations are often spread across a large geographically area, construction is much more focused, so the economic benefits stay local as well.
That goes especially for labour, which can’t be outsourced and provides one of the few sources of well-paying jobs to unskilled or unqualified workers such as immigrants, a key factor to the health of communities given this country’s traditionally high immigration rate.
And unlike most other manual labour, it’s relatively well-paid. Due to labour shortages and high turnover, employers are willing to loosen the purse strings to keep valued workers. That means some take home $150,000 -plus a year.
For an immigrant from Guatamala or Somalia or Portugal, it’s a ticket to middle-class life and a future, as it was for successive waves of new Canadians going back more than a century.
Contact Laurin Jeffrey for more information – 416-388-1960
Laurin Jeffrey is a Toronto Realtor with Century 21 Regal Realty. He did not
write these articles, he just reproduces them here for people who are
interested in Toronto real estate. He does not work for any builders.