While the usual suspects (manufacturing, mostly) are still struggling to add new jobs, Montreal’s economy is benefiting immensely from rapid growth in high-tech sectors. Fueled, in no small part, by the recent growth of local success story Blackberry, Inc., Montreal has spent the last four years adding jobs in a number of tech-related industries and occupations. But the way Montreal has done so points to the success not only of its local economy but also of its education system.
The metropolitan area of Montreal, as of 2012, had a population of about 3.8 million people, making it Canada’s second largest metro, and a workforce of 1.8 million jobs. Since 2009, the Montreal labour force has grown by an anemic 1.9%, significantly behind the nationwide rate of 4.2% and behind the province of Quebec’s average of 3.1%. Not an auspicious sign for the economy. But if we drill down and look at specific industries, we can find some remarkable growth occurring.
Let’s start by focussing in on one of Montreal’s largest and fastest-growing industries, computer systems design and related industries (NAICS 5415). In 2012, this industry was one of Montreal’s strongest, accounting for 33,404 jobs; in fact, from 2009 to 2013 it’s grown by 6.4%. It pays well, too. The median salary is over $71,000. And with an location quotient of 1.83, it’s something of a regional specialty. But people don’t work in industries, they work in occupations, so we need to consider how the different occupations that have staffed the growth of this industry are doing.
The answer? Incredibly well. In fact, if we sort out the eight occupations that have the most jobs in the computer systems design industry, we see that only one of them has lost jobs since 2009, and some of them have more than doubled in size. To see details for all of them, look to the table that accompanies this graph of their performance as a group. Note that this is for jobs in these occupations across all industries in Montreal, not just those in computer systems design.
With growth like this, it would make sense to see Montreal’s workforce growing at the expense of other, neighbouring metros that are simultaneously losing jobs in the same occupations. Montreal recruiters might be poaching talent from Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, or any one of a number of other places. But that, surprisingly, is not the case. Of all the sizable metros with a sizable computer systems design industry near Montreal, very few are losing workers from occupations in our focus group. In fact, most of them are growing as well, as this chart shows:
The only major metro that might have been losing jobs to Montreal is Ottawa-Gatineau. But a decline of only 4,000 jobs, while significant for Ottawa, isn’t nearly enough to be a significant factor in Montreal’s addition of almost 20,000 jobs. In fact, if they’re going anywhere, it’s probably Toronto, where wages are much more attractive than Montreal’s (a median wage of $34 to Montreal’s $30).
If Montreal’s tech industries aren’t getting their workers from neighbouring regions, that leaves one option: education. It seems clear that Montreal’s higher education system is doing a good job of meeting this area of market demand by training workers for in-demand occupations. With a large number of universities, colleges, and other institutions in the Montreal area, it’s not surprising that Montreal’s tech industries are well-supplied with workers. Other cities looking to boost their economies should take note.
Data for this post came from Analyst, EMSI’s online labour market data tool. For more information on what Analyst can do for your college or business, contact Fraser Martens. Follow us on Twitter @desktopeconomist