The Brookings Institution, a think tank based in the USA, has issued a snapshot of economic performance in 2011 for the world’s largest 200 metropolitan areas including Metro Vancouver. The Global Metro Monitor report states that these 200 urban regions account for half the world’s economic activity.
“Performance” is measured by two indicators only: employment growth and regional income growth. The top quintile — that is, the group of 40 fastest-growing regions — is dominated by China, southeast Asia, South America, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Only two North American regions, Dallas and Houston, are shown in the top 40. Looking to the bottom 40, half the regions listed are in the United States or Britain. The eurocrisis capitals such as Athens and Dublin are also listed in the lowest-ranking group.
Canada does well relative to the USA in terms of growth during 2011. All seven Canadian regions in the survey place in the second quintile, or between positions 40 and 80. Metro Vancouver is ranked 76th in economic growth, with estimated employment growth in 2011 of 2.2 per cent and total income growth of 0.7 per cent. Current growth is broadly-based, drawing on business and finance, construction, manufacturing, and trade and tourism. However, in terms of income levels (crudely estimated as GDP divided by population), Vancouver is ranked 100th in the survey, lower than some struggling US cities such as Detroit and Buffalo.
Two broad conclusions from the Brookings survey. First, at the end of 2011, North American regions including Metro Vancouver had not returned to pre-recession levels of employment and income. Second, global economic growth is focused overwhelmingly in the developing world, although it would take decades at the current rate for incomes to reach parity.
This past week also saw the release of a report on economic performance in Canadian regions from CIBC World Markets. This survey covers the third quarter of 2011, and uses a broader range of measures than the Brookings report. Vancouver is ranked 5th of 25 regions, with a score of 15.5 compared with 23.0 for Toronto, which leads the country. The Victoria region is near the bottom with a score of 5.9. Two regions, Saguenay and Thunder Bay, show negative scores.
“[Vancouver] continues to enjoy above average population growth, while the pace of job creation and the level of employment quality are well above the national average. While improving recently, the unemployment rate is still relatively high, just one tick below the national average, while the pace of real estate activity is starting to slow.”
There’s confusion in the CIBC text between Vancouver City and Metro Vancouver. However, the tables make it clear that the numbers refer to the Vancouver Census Metropolitan area, which is identical to Metro Vancouver including First Nations territories.