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This week Statistics Canada released its latest estimates of population growth for Canada’s census metropolitan areas. These estimates gives us an idea how our population is changing between Census years. The verdict for the 2012/2013 estimates? Not surprisingly, the highest rates of population growth are in Western Canada. According to Statistics Canada:

For a second consecutive year, the four fastest growing CMAs were in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with Calgary recording the strongest population growth rate at 4.3%. The next highest population growth rates were in the CMAs of Saskatoon (+3.9%), Edmonton (+3.8%) and Regina (+3.1%). Source: The Daily 

For large metro areas, the most important source of population growth is international migration. But to expand on my last post I thought it might be interesting to look at who’s moving to the top 6 largest cities from within Canada. The chart below shows total net migration by age group between 2001/2002 and 2012/2013:

Migration chart

Some observations:

  • Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa are the only cities among the largest six with positive net migration from inside Canada (and in Ottawa’s case migration is relatively small and flat). Migration to Calgary and Edmonton has increased dramatically in the last few years, especially among 20-39 year olds.
  • Unlike what I used for my last post, these data don’t show the origin and destination of migrants. But there does seem to be a trend of individuals moving away from Eastern Canada and British Columbia and into Alberta (if the chart included Regina and Saskatoon that trend would include Saskatchewan as well).
  • This type of migration is clearly sensitive to economic forces. Notice the drop in migration to Calgary and Edmonton during the recession years. It looks like the flow of 20-39 year olds moving to Alberta for work slowed, and/or those here working left when the economy slowed down.

So clearly Edmonton doesn’t have a problem attracting working-age people from elsewhere in Canada when our economy is booming. Our challenge, then, is to keep these people here when the next downturn rolls around.

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