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Timmins local labour market growing.

Data suggests employment opportunities have improved significantly during the past year

Mining headframes and logging trucks stand out across the Timmins landscape and speak to the ongoing predominance of natural resource industries in the city.

Equally important to the strength of the city's economy, however, is its well-developed health, education, retail and wholesale trade infrastructure which has made Timmins a service centre for the wider region of surrounding communities.

Labour force survey estimates are not available on a monthly, or yearly basis for communities the size of Timmins due to the small sample sizes in Statistics Canada's monthly Labour Force Survey.

For this reason, we look at the estimates published for a much larger area -- northeastern. Ontario (Economic. Region 590) -- to analyze labour market trends.

Over the past five years, employment conditions in Northeastern Ontario were relatively stable, with employment growth of less than 1 percent between 1995 and 1999.

At the same time, there Was a slight reduction in the Region's unemployment rate, which fell from 10.5 per cent in 1995 to 9.9 per cent in 1999.

Job creation was centered in the services-producing industries, with strong growth recorded in accommodation and food services, and in trade.

This has been a welcome trend across northeastern Ontario, given the declining employment prospects in the goods sector, particularly in forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas.

This year the pattern of employment growth is the same, and the pace of that growth has quickened.

In August northeastern Ontario employment reached its highest level in five years, with healthy year-to-date gains on the services-producing side of the economy.

The Timmins experience this year largely reflects the northeastern Ontario record. Most of the major employment sectors have been stable since the spring, and there have been some positive project announcements along with signs of improving conditions in the service sector.

Tourism is gaining a higher profile in Timmins with the success of the Gold Mine Tour. This industry will receive an added boost from the recently-announced project to develop an $11-million Shania Twain Interpretive Centre at the Gold Mine Tour site.

The retail sector has expanded over the last decade as Timmins has grown as a shopping destination for the far northeastern region.

There is little vacant space at Timmins Square, the major retail mall. A newcomer, Taco Bell, will open a franchise shortly.

There was significant road construction in the city throughout the summer as crews worked to complete five-laning projects and other road upgrades. Construction of a new $10.5-million French public school also began this summer.

Despite technological changes that steadily reduced employment throughout the last decade, mining continues to be one of the most important employment sectors in Timmins.

It accounts for 15 percent of the experienced labour force.

This summer the city was pleased with the announcement that Falconbridge Ltd. would proceed with a $640-million deep mine project at its Kidd Creek Mine Division.

This should extend the life of this mine and ensure employment over the next decade. On a less positive note, the lower price of gold over the last few years has led to diminished exploration in the area and to layoffs at some gold operations.

In October St. Andrew Goldfields Ltd. announced it would lay off 80 workers in December 2000 and cited the low price of gold as one of the key reasons for that decision.

This will be a double blow to some of the workers who had found jobs there following the closure of the Royal Oak. Mines' Pamour Division in December of 1999.

Despite these challenging conditions for gold operations, there have recently been announcements of the potential start-up and development of a few small mining operations in the Timmins area.

Domtar Inc. and Tembec Forest Products play an important role in the Timmins labour market.

Over the last few years these companies have made significant investments in their forest products mills to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Last month Domtar's McChesney mill announced a planned expenditure of $3.1 million for equipment upgrades at its mill. While the company Will not be adding to its workforce, this investment will further ensure its profitability.

Administrative data from Human Resource Development Canada provides further evidence of a strengthening local labour market.

The number of regular employment insurance claims in Timmins was down significantly at the end of September (to 1,370). That figure is the lowest of that period in the last five years.

At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in advertised job vacancies; which have risen 36 percent over the same period last year.

This data, which includes newspaper job vacancies and those advertised in Job Bank for the Timmins area, suggest employment opportunities have improved significantly over the past year.

The city of Timmins continues to hold its own despite declining natural resource sector employment.

Continued growth on the service side of the economy should help the city to maintain a fairly stable presence in the Northern Ontario economic landscape.

Mary Toffanello is a labour market information analyst with Timmins Human Resource Centere of Canada.
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Title Annotation:Ontario
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Previous Article:Ontario Northland rolls along.
Next Article:Timmins Construction Values.

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