Montreal’s economy booms. Blacks continue to lag

We watch as the good times roll

Montreal is booming. In fact, it was the top economic performer among all Canadian cities and at the same time out-performing almost every American city in 2018.
It’s unlike anything seen in this city’s recent history as almost every sector of the economy fires in overdrive, bringing jobs, stimulating the real estate market and boosting arts and culture.
And the progress parade is expected to continue as forecasters are projecting Montreal’s gross domestic product to rise by at least 4.2 per cent, while unemployment drops to 5.5 per cent, the lowest it has been for decades, bringing with it a respectable employment rate of just under 6.2 per cent as more job seekers attempt to cash in on the good economic times.
And as an increasing number of young people grow comfortable about future prospects, they’re signaling their intentions to get into the real estate market, which observers say is overheating with a record $1.63 billion in transactions to start 2019.
A recent collaborative study by three industry professional groups revealed that 50 percent of Montrealers between the ages of 18-34 intend to purchase a home in and around Montreal over the next five years.
For those who have already done so, almost 75 per cent of them were able to snag a mortgage on their first attempt, with the majority buying single-family homes.
In the retail sector, Montreal showed the fastest growth, amounting to well over $60.5 billion in sales over the past years as household disposable income increase by almost four per cent.
Much of the city’s good economic fortune grew out of its strategic positioning as a hub for science and technology, providing a home for leading-edge companies that deliver products and services related to artificial intelligence, video games, visual effects and health technologies, as well as a global leader in the aerospace technology and pharmaceuticals industry, all bringing them opportunities for thousands of high quality jobs.
And unlike the rest of Canada foreign investment money is flowing into the Montreal region, according to one source amounting to way more than $2 billion in the past year.
Also, a steady flow of international students are choosing the city to access higher education and bringing wads of cash into the coffers of institutions across Montreal. Every year, more than 6,000 of them are paying between $15,000 to $40,000 in tuition.
So where are we in all this?
As the good times roll across Montreal and its environs, it’s too bad that we’re not seeing reflections of it at any level in our community, especially in the English speaking sector, where youth unemployment and underemployment remain endemic.
It’s difficult to tell, but again there’s little evidence that our young minds are taking advantage of the rapid expansions that are currently taking place in the arena of science and technology.
There are good jobs and opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of out there. The current workforce is due for a massive overall soon, as many will be retiring in the near future.
Too many of our students are still dropping out and ending up in dead-end jobs.
Also, from our vantage point, the landscape of the community remains crowded with youth still being enticed by the lure of leisure and entertainment, investing much of their creative juices into coming up with the most imaginative weekend event that cost patrons “more at the door.”
So far, we’re not hearing enough about our young ones exploring the adventures of the digital world, with new apps and new ways of doing business, in the manner that we see from the proprietors at Nemesis Video Game Lounge, in the west island.
It’s obvious that not enough entrepreneurs in the community are ready to explore the vast and still burgeoning world of e-commerce.
That’s unfortunate, because the only way that our community will be empowered going into the future will be on a foundation of entrepreneurial initiatives and solid businesses.
And so much of it is happening online and in the digital world. But much of what we’re seeing in our community is the “selfie” and “make it go viral” syndrome as outlined by our new columnist Jerry Alexander elsewhere in the paper.
The thing about this economic boom that has many Montrealers swimming in opportunities and resources is that it’s fragile.
As stated before, with massive changes coming to the workforce, there’s a likelihood of shortages and skilled people to take the jobs.
Our current provincial government is not immigrant-friendly, and with the controversial religious symbols legislation still on tap, no telling when it will all come to a crashing end.
The challenge is a simple one for families, and the remaining community institutions to be aware of what’s happening in the city around us and join the bandwagon and “jump up” in this progress parade.

Egbert Gaye