The economic growth outlook for Sudbury will likely be in neutral for the next year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Derek Burleton, vice-president and deputy chief economist for TD Bank Group.
Burleton gave a presentation at the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon series on Dec. 4 on the economic outlook of the city, region, nation and what’s happening internationally for the next year.
The good news is there isn’t any major shakeups or downturns expected in the foreseeable future.
The bad news is there is a lot of variables, such as Brexit, China-U.S. trade, and the new free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico, which has yet to be finalized.
“There are risks, but these issues are difficult to navigate through,” Burleton said. “The broad conditions should improve.“
He expects the unemployment rate to hold steady for the next 12 months at around five per cent.
Nickel prices are also expected to hold at a modest level with some slight increases.
On the down side, there’s the risk of a China-U.S. trade war, which could cause instability in the commodities markets with the U.S. threatening to raise tariffs by 200 per cent. But Burleton admitted to feeling better that the two nations are suspending tariffs for 90 days to negotiate another deal.
Nationally, there are several other risks, such as high household debt and concerns over the Bank of Canada raising interest rates.
Canadians have always had fears over sudden changes in the economy due to U.S. policies, oil prices, and other international factors, but among our strengths in competing against larger economies is having a young and diverse workforce.
“Our strength is in our ability to attract immigrants,” Burleton said. “We have let more people into the country with skills, or students come here to study and stay. That gives our country a younger and more diverse employment pool.”
International issues do have an impact on Sudbury due to the city being connected to the world economy, he explained.
The value of commodities like nickel and copper are set on international markets. A lot of the risks floating around could have an impact on the city’s economy, particularly trade issues between China and the U.S.
“It will be an interesting few months given some of the event risks that will be happening,” he said. “But even then, I see an economy that will hold firm in 2019 and into 2020.”