Conference Board of Canada outlook for Windsor’s economy ‘particularly bright’

Rusty Thomson/CKLW AM800

The Conference Board of Canada is describing the outlook for Windsor’s economy “particularly bright.”

A new report from the conference board attributes the optimistic outlook to the construction of the NextStar electric vehicle battery plant, upgrades at the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant and construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

Richard Forbes, Senior Economist with the Conference Board of Canada, says Windsor should not be overlooked down the road as a place to live given the expected growth, even if you’re not working in the manufacturing and construction sector.

“The effects go far beyond those industries, a good example of that is the financial sector. With all this additional population growth we see a lot of opportunity in the insurance and banking industries as well, so it’s important to note that it could be for everybody, not just workers in those industries,” he says.  

The conference board outlook projects employment expanding by 2,500 jobs annually over the next two years as the manufacturing sector continues to add more workers over the next few months, while construction on the electric vehicle battery plant and retooling of the Windsor assembly plant will also provide a boost to the city’s labour market.

The report notes the new bridge will allow traffic to flow between Windsor and Detroit more seamlessly, making the city a more attractive destination.

The outlook also projects average wages in the census metropolitan area will rise 4.1 per cent this year and another 2.8 per cent in 2024 due to demand for skilled workers, who tend to command higher wages.

Forbes points to work to retool the Windsor Assembly Plant as one example of what’s happening in the market when it comes to wages.

“That may require quite a few more skilled workers as well that generally get paid high wages and that adds to our wage outlook as well. The second thing is that with this extra employment opportunity, it’s going to be a little bit harder on companies to find workers and that’s going to put a little upward pressure on overall wages,” he says.

Forbes believes all of the changes will also help the Windsor economy to diversify over the long-term.

“I mention things like financial and professional services as well, which is generally a very favourable view for the City of Windsor. When your economy is more diversified, you’re more insulated from downturns in certain industries,” he adds.

The conference board also projects Windsor’s population growth will pick up steam over the next few years due to a combination of a stronger job market, looming completion of the Gordie Howe Bridge, and record national immigration targets.

The report says after rising 0.6 per cent in 2022, the census metropolitan area’s population will expand by 1.1 per cent annually over the next two years.

Between 2025 and 2027, the board projects even stronger annual population gains of 1.5 per cent as employment opportunities continue to expand.