Employment hotbeds in Canada.

Has Canada’s economic power shifted to the west? Are all the best jobs in Alberta and Saskatchewan? Some people would say yes — and with good reason. Earlier this year, the Conference Board of Canada projected that Calgary (pictured), Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon would post the strongest economic growth in Canada in 2012. There’s strong international demand for their natural resources, and some locals are reaping the benefits. Further, the government of Saskatchewan is only one of two provincial governments expected to post a budget surplus in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. So things are looking pretty rosy in the Prairies.

But just how good is Western Canada for jobs? What about the rest of the country? MoneySense has crunched numbers on 190 Canadian cities in order to find out which are the best for employment. See if your city cracked our top 10.

For our full methodology on how we crunched out numbers, click here.

10. Grande Prairie, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 28
Population growth: 152
Household income: 11
Discretionary income: 14
Average house price: 112
Average time to buy: 25
Doctors per 1,000: 106
Health professionals: 123
Transit: 109

Grande Prairie only finished 95th in our overall rankings, but when it comes to jobs, this mid-sized city in western Alberta is a frontrunner. Its residents have the 11th highest household incomes in the country out of the 190 cities that we surveyed. Like many of its Albertan neighbours, Grande Prairie is reliant on the oil and gas, forestry and agriculture industries. This city is also a major transportation hub in the Peace River Country and is located on the CANAMEX trade route, which links Canada with the United States and Mexico.

More from MoneySense:
Canada’s worst places to live
Best places rankings: How did your town do?
Best places to raise kids
Canada’s ideal city interactive

9. Canmore, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 5
Population growth: 110
Household income: 6
Discretionary income: 3
Average house price: 186
Average time to buy: 161
Doctors per 1,000: 7
Health professionals: 49
Transit: 158

Canmore certainly benefits from its proximity to Banff National Park, which attracts tourists year-round. That means jobs are plentiful in the recreation, food and beverage, and hospitality sectors. In fact, out of our top 10 places for jobs, Canmore has the lowest unemployment rate and the second highest household income. But on the opposite side of the spectrum, Canmore has some of the least affordable housing in the entire country.

10 unusual interview mistakes

8. Burlington, Ont.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 38
Population growth: 17
Household income: 20
Discretionary income: 29
Average house price: 153
Average time to buy: 105
Doctors per 1,000: 54
Health professionals: 122
Transit: 37

Burlington has the distinction of being the only city in Ontario on our jobs list. Located on the western edge of Lake Ontario, Burlington is ideally situated for people who’d like to commute to either Hamilton or the Great Toronto Area. It’s no wonder that Burlington’s population growth is booming. According to the government of Ontario, the majority of the province’s population increase over the next 25 years will come from new immigrants. Many of them will undoubtedly wind up in Burlington.

7. Lethbridge, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 10
Population growth: 71
Household income: 61
Discretionary income: 20
Average house price: 94
Average time to buy: 70
Doctors per 1,000: 130
Health professionals: 34
Transit: 92

Lethbridge lays claim to the most affordable housing amongst cities on our top 10 list. And when it comes to work, Lethbridge has the 10th lowest unemployment rate in the entire country. According to Economic Development Lethbridge, a not-for-profit organization, there are 48 firms in the city employing more than 100 people, many of which are in the public sector. Those organizations employ roughly 41 per cent of the city’s workforce.

6. Regina, Sask.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 9
Population growth: 1
Household income: 43
Discretionary income: 81
Average house price: 104
Average time to buy: 61
Doctors per 1,000: 73
Health professionals: 51
Transit: 57

People are rushing to Regina, which currently ranks number one in our population growth category. The city enjoys a low unemployment rate and its economy is driven by the oil and gas, potash and agricultural sectors. In January, the Conference Board of Canada projected that Regina’s economy would expand by 2.9 per cent in 2012. That’s a slowdown from last year’s numbers, but still leaves Regina placing fourth in economic growth amongst Canadian CMAs (Census Metropolitan Areas).

5. Edmonton, Alta

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 33
Population growth: 68
Household income: 40
Discretionary income: 22
Average house price: 134
Average time to buy: 106
Doctors per 1,000: 46
Health professionals: 41
Transit: 23

Edmonton is yet another economic powerhouse in the Prairies and the city benefits from being the closest urban centre to the Alberta oilsands. But it’s not all oil and energy in Edmonton. A good portion of the city’s workforce, for instance, is employed in the public sector. Edmonton is also home to the University of Alberta, which is one of the country’s finest places for post-secondary education. On the U of A campus you’ll find the National Institute for Nanotechnology, which has a business office that assists local nanotechnology firms.

4. Calgary, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 42
Population growth: 95
Household income: 8
Discretionary income: 7
Average house price: 164
Average time to buy: 70
Doctors per 1,000: 59
Health professionals: 98
Transit: 11

On average, Calgarians are making more money than residents of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, and the city boasts a lower unemployment rate than all three. Calgarians also have more leftover cash to save, spend and invest. So it comes as no surprise that Calgary has emerged as an economic power in Western Canada. And it turns out the rest of the world has noticed as well. In January, the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization in the United States, ranked Calgary as Canada’s leading economic performer on a list of worldwide metropolitan areas.

3. St. Albert, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 22
Population growth: 31
Household income: 9
Discretionary income: 10
Average house price: 173
Average time to buy: 130
Doctors per 1,000: 46
Health professionals: 15
Transit: 48

St. Albert enjoys the benefits of being close to Edmonton, though its residents easily outrank Edmontonians in average household income and discretionary income. The city also has the distinction of employing the highest percentage of health professionals in the general population amongst cities in our top 10. In the next couple years, the City of St. Albert is hoping to lure more tourists and establish its moniker as ‘the Botanical Arts City.’

2. Red Deer, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 17
Population growth: 17
Household income: 31
Discretionary income: 11
Average house price: 119
Average time to buy: 58
Doctors per 1,000: 72
Health professionals: 42
Transit: 64

Much like Burlington, Red Deer benefits from its proximity to two large cities — in this case, Edmonton and Calgary, both of which take roughly 90 minutes to reach by car. However, Red Deer outranks its high-profile neighbours with more affordable housing, ideal population growth and a better employment rate. According to Red Deer Region Economic Development, 90 per cent of land in the region is dedicated to agricultural production.

1. Strathcona County, Alta.

Rankings out of 190 cities:
Low unemployment: 17
Population growth: 85
Household income: 4
Discretionary income: 13
Average house price: 152
Average time to buy: 35
Doctors per 1,000: 46
Health professionals: 38
Transit: 69

Strathcona County is yet another prosperous city in the Edmonton area. So why does it rank No. 1? For starters, Strathcona County locals make the most money in our top 10 and the unemployment rate is enviable. A good portion of its workforce commutes to Edmonton for jobs in health care and manufacturing. East Edmonton and Strathcona also count several industrial employers within their boundaries, including Imperial Oil, Enbridge, Suncor and Shell Canada. In other words, there is no shortage of major corporate employers to keep thousands of Strathcona County locals in well-paying jobs.

Advertisements