Newmarket mayor Tony Van Bynen challenges regional report showing poor job growth in town
By Lisa Queen
The actual figure may be in dispute, but Newmarket added only a small percentage of the new jobs that came to York Region from 2009 to 2014.
The news comes less than a month after Newmarket Chamber of Commerce president Debra Scott said the town should hire a second economic development officer to boost efforts to attract and retain businesses.
The chamber has made several efforts to push the town to move forward on that front after an economic development implementation plan drafted by town consultants several years ago noted resources in that area are “severely constrained”.
Of the 77,000 new jobs that came to the region from 2009 to 2014, Newmarket captured only 100 of them, according to a new report entitled York Region Employment and Industry Report 2014.
But Newmarket disagrees with the region’s figure, insisting the annual York Region Employment Survey (YRES) proves the town is up 570 jobs over the five years and that is even after accounting for the fact the town lost 902 jobs when solar panel production company Flextronics relocated to Mexico and lost another 322 jobs when York Regional Police moved its headquarters from Newmarket to Aurora, Mayor Tony Van Bynen said.
Employees of the town’s and the region’s economic development departments are meeting Thursday to review the job figures because Newmarket questions some of the region’s “assumptions and estimates” in areas such as agricultural and home-based business jobs, he said.
But whether the town’s job total grew at a compounded average annual rate of 0.03 per cent, if the 100 figure in the region’s new report is correct, or by 1.5 per cent, if the YRES is accurate, Newmarket’s employment record of the last five years pales in comparison to most of its neighbouring municipalities, although Van Bynen argued Newmarket’s employment would have grown by a healthy 4.7 per cent if it hadn’t lost the Flextronics and police jobs.
York Region’s robust 2.98 per cent compounded average annual employment growth from 2009 to 2014 outpaced Ontario’s 1.5 per cent and Canada’s 1.3 per cent.
In 2009, Newmarket had 42,600 jobs, which had grown to 42,700 by 2014, according to the region’s report, which the town disputes.
Not surprisingly, the region’s southern three municipalities bordering Toronto have the bulk of York’s jobs. Vaughan led the region’s employment picture with 208,100 jobs in 2014, which was 37,800 than the 170,300 it had five years earlier, for a compounded average annual growth rate of 4.09 per cent. But even among its northern neighbours, Newmarket fared poorly in the region’s new report.
In percentage terms, East Gwillimbury had the highest job growth between 2009 and 2014, with a compounded average annual increase of 7.84 per cent more positions. The town added 3,000 new jobs during the five years, bringing its total to 9,500.
In Aurora, 5,700 new jobs were added between 2009 and 2014, a 4.85-per-cent compounded average annual increase, bringing the town’s total to 27,000.
Whitchurch-Stouffville boosted its number of jobs by 2,300 over the five-year period, a 3.58-per-cent compounded average annual increase. As of 2014, the town had 14,000 jobs.
King Township’s employment rose by 600 positions for a 1.42-per-cent compounded average annual increase. As of last year, it had 8,900 jobs.
Georgina added 300 new jobs, a 0.81-per-cent compounded annual average increase, bringing its total to 8,800.
Even if Newmarket’s 1.5-per-cent growth figure is correct, that puts its percentage growth only ahead of Georgina and King, traditionally not employment leaders in the region.
While Van Bynen said Newmarket’s 1.5 per cent “still stands up” in comparison to other municipalities, he would have liked to have seen more jobs come to town.
“We’re never happy with a small increase in employment,” he said, adding the town is constrained by limited industrial lands.
The town is focusing on attracting “jobs of the future” such as health care and knowledge-based sector positions, Van Bynen said.
The health care sector grew by 54 per cent over the past 10 years, while the business services sector grew by 44 per cent, he said.
The town’s 10-year employment data from YRES shows Newmarket attracted 3,000 jobs during the past 10 years, an 8.5-per-cent increase, he added.
According to the region’s new employment report, York’s employment grew by 2.4 per cent or 13,300 jobs in 2013/2014, compared to 0.6 per cent growth provincially and nationally. But that was significantly less than the 21,000 jobs in the previous year, the report stated.
All industries grew between 2009 and 2014.