Ontario Chamber of Commerce Releases 2021 Ontario Economic Report

· by c.dambrosio@hamiltonchamber.ca

On January 28, 2021, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the fifth annual Ontario Economic Report (OER) detailing the experiences and confidence levels of Ontario businesses based on data collected through multiple surveys conducted over the past several months.

Click here to review the 2021 Ontario Economic Report

According to the OER, Ontario witnessed a steep decline in real GDP growth (-5.6 percent) in 2020 but is projected to see a moderate rebound of 4.8 percent in 2021, fuelled largely in part by expectations for vaccination rollout and the eventual re-opening of the economy. 

In 2020, only 21 percent of survey respondents expressed confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook. Fewer than half of Ontario businesses (48 percent) are confident in the outlook of their own organizations. Moreover, small businesses are more pessimistic about Ontario’s outlook than larger ones. Only 20 percent of small businesses expressed confidence in Ontario’s economy, compared to 27 percent of medium and large businesses.

The OER also breaks down survey data on the basis of regional participation to demonstrate the variation of impacts across the province. It is important to note that Hamilton falls under the Hamilton Niagara Peninsula region, and as such combines survey data from Hamilton and Niagara Region businesses. This is particularly significant this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the tourism industry, which makes up the largest segment of the Niagara Region’s economy.

Hamilton Niagara Peninsula Data:

  • Perceptions of Business Ability to Thrive in their Community
    • Ontario: 60% YES able to thrive
    • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula: 46% YES able to thrive
  • Confidence in Ontario’s Economic Outlook
    • Ontario: 21% confident, 32% neutral, 46% not confident
    • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula: 12% confident, 31% neutral, 56% not confident
  • Confidence in Organizational Economic Outlook
    • Ontario: 47% confident, 27% neutral, 25% not confident
    • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula: 38% confident, 33% neutral, 28% not confident
  • Companies Shrinking or Growing
    • Ontario: 56% shrunk, 26% same, 18% grew
    • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula: 66% shrunk, 22% stayed the same, 12% grew
  • COVID-19 Impact on Human Resources
    • Ontario: 47% let staff go, 40% no impact, 13% hired
    • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula: 60% let staff go, 34% no impact, 6% hired
  • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula Jobless Rate:
    • 2020 8.6%          
    • 2021 6.4% projected
  • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula Employment Rate Change:
    • 2020 -5.8%         
    • 2021 5.6% projected
  • Hamilton Niagara Peninsula Population Growth:
    • 2020 1.5%          
    • 2021 1.5% projected

Hamilton is known for having the most diversified economy in the country, and as such, potentially has mitigated some of the significant economic impacts being felt in the Niagara Region.

The City of Hamilton Economic Development Department is conducting a city-wide COVID-19 Business Impact Survey that will provide a more focused look on Hamilton and local impacts. It is anticipated that comparison data between the OER and the Business Impact Survey will show that Hamilton data is more positive than the joint Hamilton Niagara Peninsula data.