A Tale of Three Cities: The Dynamics of Manufacturing in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, 1976-1997 - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 11F0019M2001177


Recent research has suggested that investment has shifted from urban areas to more rural locales. However, Canadian manufacturing remains predominantly an urban activity with more than 40% of manufacturing employment located in Canada's three largest urban regions. This paper examines the changing manufacturing landscapes of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and outlines the shifts in industry mix, employment, and wage levels that have taken place over the period between 1976 and 1997. The analysis uses a longitudinal plant-level database based upon the Annual Survey of Manufactures conducted by Statistics Canada.

Toronto and Vancouver both experience growth in the manufacturing sector, while Montreal experiences decline driven by differences in their industrial structure. Manufacturing activity has increased in a number of sectors of Toronto's economy, but has been particularly influenced by the growing automotive sector that ties the city to a large North American market. Montreal has experienced declines across most of the manufacturing industries. A heavy concentration of employment in labour intensive industries such as textiles and clothing, which have experienced severe declines across Canada, has amplified the level of decline in Montreal. However, Montreal has seen some growth in science-based industries. While Vancouver's manufacturing economy is much smaller in absolute terms, maintaining slightly less than a 5% share of national manufacturing employment, it has exhibited higher levels of long-run growth and restructuring than its eastern counterparts.

A second focus of the paper is to explore the relationship between economic volatility and diversity in the manufacturing sector using a number of statistical measures. Toronto and Montreal have diverse industrial structures, although each has become slightly more concentrated over the study period. In Montreal, this is due to the increasing importance of other industries, as the clothing and textiles industry declines. In Toronto, this can be attributed to the increased importance of the food and transportation equipment industries. Vancouver has become increasingly diversified over the study period, reflecting the growth and dynamism of this sector. The mature manufacturing economies of Toronto and Montreal exhibit lower levels of volatility than their western counterpart.

Issue Number: 2001177
Author(s): Vinodrai, Tara
FormatRelease dateMore information
PDFNovember 23, 2001

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