March 14, 2018 8:41 am

Conference board issues economic forecast for London

Downtown London skyline from Adelaide Street overpass.

980 CFPL/Matt Trevithick

London’s economy is expected to slow slightly this year, and even more next year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The board released its economic forecast for London and 15 other cities as part of its regular metropolitan outlook report.

The conference board expects London’s economy to slow to 1.8 per cent this year, then slow further to 1.5 per cent in 2019. That’s down from 2 per cent growth in 2017.

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However, it also forecasts a 2.6 per cent bump in employment this year. Just last week, Statistics Canada reported the London-St. Thomas jobless rate rose to 6.7 per cent in February, its third straight increase.

READ MORE: London-St. Thomas jobless rate rises to start 2018

London’s participation rate, which remains low, did rise slightly to start the year. The rate bumped up to 60.1 per cent after spending most of 2017 below 60 per cent. Even with the slight increase, London’s participation rate continues to be the worst in the province and among the worst in the entire country.

The latest ManpowerGroup employment outlook survey has found employers in the London area expect an upbeat hiring climate for the second quarter of 2018.

The survey found 27 per cent of employers plan to hire between April and June, while three per cent anticipate cutbacks and 67 per cent plan to maintain their current staffing levels. The remaining three per cent are unsure of their hiring intentions.

The board credits London’s mix of the public and private sector activity with keeping the economy from going off the deep end.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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