How did your city fare in the recent recession?

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Don't push the panic button yet! The recovery is bound to come, says professor

A while back, I wrote about an interactive map published by Slate.com that gave people a visual overview of which urban centres in the USA had been most heavily impacted by the recent economic collapse. I described the rapid descent of employment and the millions of jobs lost within months as "chilling."

The National Post recently wrote about a new map by the MITACS organization (full disclosure, my colleague Daniel works for them) that's been designed to incorporate both Canadian and the US labour stats. The site - mitacstrends.com - features the interactive map and the ability to register comments about it. You can test out it clicking here (opens pop up window).

Here is how Dr. Peter Hall, professor at the Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University describes it:

The map traces how the contagion spread from metropolitan areas in Florida, California and the industrial Midwest. It reveals that some cities have fared less poorly than others while for some this recession was yet another blow after years of decline.

The word "contagion" is apt – the economic woes are traveling like a flu bug across the continent.

One of the more interesting parts of the map is to watch how New Orleans goes a big bright red after Hurricane Katrina (no city, no jobs). This is then followed by massive job losses in places like Florida, California (housing bubble burst) and Michigan (auto industry flatlines). Only 2 years ago (November 2007) the entire continent was practically blue with thousands of newly employed people, now it's almost all red.

The map is right up to date and it indicates that Canadian cities seemed to have fared much better than their American counterparts. In fact, the map indicates that many cities in Western Canada actually still have net gains in jobs since 2003.

Canada's relative economic success over this decade compared to the US has not gone noticed down south. Agencies and local governments are looking at us as a possible model to prevent this kind of collapse happening again.

Professor Hall must be an optimist judging by this quote: “Keep watching [the map] – the recovery will have to start somewhere.”

Where it's unlikely to recover soon is California. The Golden State is quickly becoming the poster child for the failed economy. This heat map of job losses shows massive unemployment throughout the state. Maybe it will be the Grapes of Wrath in reverse...Okies and Arkies heading back east.

When I look at this I say, be thankful, Canada. Our economic struggles pale by comparison to our American neighbour's.

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