Monday, February 3, 2014

Ontario's Demographics: In and Out Migration from Other Provinces

Surly Hamiltonian has long held that Ontario is a pyramid scheme built on more and more people coming and propping up real estate prices. OK, that's some hyperbole, but with Ontario's malaise in manufacturing and ever increasing housing prices despite flat incomes it sometimes feels that way.

With Ontario's low birth rate, population growth isn't going to come from that, but from immigration, both from other countries and other provinces. With Ontario having slow economic growth for the past ten years, those two sources are changing.

In this post I thought I would look at interprovincial migration. From the Ontario Finance's ministry's demographic quarterly website, here's the most recent migration to Ontario numbers:

Third Quarter 2012, 22,300
Fourth Quarter 2012, 11,000
First Quarter 2013, 13,500
Second Quarter 2013, 22,900

Here's the numbers for people leaving Ontario for other provinces:

Third Quarter 2012, 27,900
Fourth Quarter 2012, 15,100
First Quarter 2013, 20,400
Second Quarter 2013, 27,700

One thing that jumps out at me is that people don't seem to move much interprovincially in the fourth quarter compared to the other quarters. That's not really surprising. People don't move during Christmas time.

The main take away is that more people are leaving Ontario than arriving interprovincially. Here's departures minus arrivals:

Third Quarter 2012, 5,600
Fourth Quarter 2012, 4,100
First Quarter 2013, 6,900
Second Quarter 2013, 6,800

There was a time recently when Ontario drew in more people from other provinces than it lost. Those days are gone for now. Over the year,  that's only 23,400 out of a population of 13.51 million people in 2012 according to Wikipedia. However those people leaving definitely lower the rate of growth of the province compared to previous times when the interprovincical migration was in Ontario's favour. If international immigrants are choosing other provinces over Ontario, Ontario's population growth rate will take an additional hit.

I take away two things from this. Ontario's GDP growth has had population growth as a big factor the past ten years as the per capita GDP growth has been quite stagnant. My guess is that per capita growth will remain stagnant and thus with lower population growth overall GDP growth in Ontario is going to be poor (not that it has been any great shakes in the last ten years).

The second thing is that if the population is growing less, there's less of a demand for housing. I think with current house prices compared to incomes and people choosing to leave the province, Ontario's days of rapidly rising housing prices will be coming to an end. I'm sure they can continue on for some time, but with lower population pressure they won't be as high as they could have.

Actually, one final thing. With more people leaving the province, the long term population projections for Ontario and its cities and towns are probably off. Something to consider for infrastructure.

And wait one more thing, at the risk of imitating Steve Jobs. Since the latest number as of this posting is the second quarter of 2013, I'm curious at the numbers for the rest of the year. Since Ontario lost 39,000 jobs in December 2013, I have to believe that will be reflected in the final quarter numbers or perhaps in the first quarter of 2014. Certainly something to watch.

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