Montreal Regains Its Sound | The press

Despite labor shortages, high office vacancy rates and telecommuting still affecting downtown traffic, Greater Montreal’s economic activity has regained its pre-pandemic momentum, even setting new highs, particularly in relation to the recent employment rate April, a record level for the last 15 years on the island of Montreal.

Posted at 6:30am

We often get the impression that darkness still hovers over the Montreal sky, a perception no doubt explained by the ongoing disorganization of the road network, constantly plagued by the emergence of new road works and new obstacles, and the undue expansion of Montreal the work in progress for many months. We have the distinct impression that we will never see the end.

Also this week, the Department of Transportation and the City of Montreal unveiled the list of summer roadworks that will spread across the island and surrounding areas. No fewer than 85 major construction sites will further complicate the already difficult life of motorists who have to pass through Montreal.


The REM construction site, last May

We’re talking about a 40% increase in workload compared to last year, when access to the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the Louis H. -La Fontaine and the Metropolitan Expressway will be hampered and continuing construction of the REM will still generate its share of detours…

Despite this painful and troubling reality, Montreal economic activity appears surprisingly shielded from these circulatory restrictions.

In a recent document prepared by the Metropolitan Community of Montreal, we see that the Greater Montreal economy is in full swing and is even in better shape than it was at its pre-pandemic 2019 peak.

Of any region in Quebec, Greater Montreal has seen the strongest job recovery since the pandemic, putting it at a peak in the past decade.

The situation has been particularly aggravated in private knowledge services (freelance, finance, engineering, information technology, video games, artificial intelligence, etc.), where the employment rate is significantly higher than in 2019. The same applies to public and semi-public services, where job creation in the areas of health and education takes us back to a peak in the last ten years.

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

The situation in the manufacturing sector is still slightly behind where it was in 2019 due to supply chain uncertainties, but is on the verge of surpassing the highs of three years ago.

Even the island is hopping

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

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

“The island of Montreal is where the knowledge service companies are concentrated, which have benefited the most from the dynamism of this sector of activity. Manufacturing companies that automate their processes are also becoming more productive. It is only in the consumer sector that we cannot regain the upper hand and today we are still well below the employment level of 2019.

“In 2020, many workers were reluctant to take up a job, many have returned to the labor market, and we find that regardless of the unemployment rate, whether low or high, the number of vacancies remains high, which is what is known as the Beveridge curve . ‘ the economist points out.

While the office vacancy rate in the greater Montreal area is almost 17% at its highest level in the last 20 years, on the industrial real estate side, which recorded the lowest rate, we observe exactly the opposite since 2000, very close to zero…

“The data tells us that to propel Montreal’s economic development, we need to better manage the economic space, notably by rethinking our industrial parks, strengthening the innovation ecosystem, developing capabilities and ultimately accelerating the energy transition,” notes Sylvain Giguère , of the CMM.

A result that the latest economic statistics for the greater Montreal area fully confirm.

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