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COVID not likely to stiffle further economic growth in Hamilton: report

Hamilton set a record Thursday March 22, 2022 for the highest temperature ever recorded on that day. Global News

An economist with a not-for-profit think tank is suggesting Hamilton benefit from continued recovery in 2022, despite a recent resurgence in COVID-19 transmission.

Viktor Cicman from the Conference Board of Canada (CoC) says the “good news” will likely come from the expansion of the travel, tourism and entertainment sectors, which lagged behind most other industries in returning to pre-pandemic levels.

“So we know some of these commercial services — accommodation, food, restaurants, hotels, tourism, arts, entertainment — were very sensitive to any type of public health restriction,” Cicman told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

Read more: Future of Work: Savings spiked during pandemic as many Canadians worked from home

“So as these are slowly being lifted … more people are going to these events and that is really going to help drive the growth into this year.”

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The CoC’s outlook for Canada’s major cities in 2022 is predicting a 3.9 per cent bump in the city’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 with another 3.5 per cent expected in 2023.

Last year, Hamilton experienced a four per cent uptick with the loosening of the Ford government’s public health measures and the addition of 23,000 jobs last year.

The insight says a new COVID-19 variant, higher prices and instability in other parts of the world will serve as a downside risk to this year’s outlook.

Forecasts for 11 other Canadian cites, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are expected from the CoC in the weeks ahead. Many of them will have similar outlooks. Vancouver recovered 123,000 of 128,000 jobs shed from the economy in 2020. There was an 11.2 per cent rebound in Quebec City’s retail sales in 2021.

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“Hamilton is actually near the top in terms of growth … they’ve done a very good job of diversifying away from just manufacturing,” Cicman said.

“Obviously that is a still a big push in this economy of the industrial base.”

Housing issues will influence how much the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) will grow in 2023 with higher interest rates potentially eating into consumers savings.

Read more: Hamilton home prices drop for second month in a row as sales decrease: RAHB

However, a continued thirst for housing in the metropolitan area is likely to aid residential construction startups.

“I will say Hamilton has done a good job with construction, real estate and really investing in several residential towers,” said Cicman.

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“We have Kiwi Condos, Beasley Park Lofts, and different residences. Hamilton is investing with its housing starts that is expected to increase as the years go on.”

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