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Economy predicted to grow 2.9 per cent

The Abbotsford-Mission census metropolitan area's (CMA) economy is forecast to grow 2.9 per cent in 2014, according to the Conference Board of Canada (CBC), the fastest of any listed in its bi-annual report.

The CBC's Metropolitan Outlook: Summer 2014 was released July 30, and out of the 15 CMAs studied, only four, including the local one, will see growth higher than two per cent this year. In 2013, this CMA posted a three per cent gain. The report also predicted that employment will drop by 0.6 per cent this year, which follows two years of strong increases. Between 2012 and 2013, there were nearly 6,000 new jobs created in the CMA.

The report uses real gross domestic product (GDP) as its measuring stick, which is an inflation-adjusted measure that reflects the value of all goods and services produced in a year.

Last year saw growth in transportation and warehousing, wholesale and retail trade, finance, insurance and real estate and more. However, this was offset by weakness in the manufacturing, construction and public administration industries.

The reduction of manufacturing is predicted to pick up, according to the CBC, as the U.S. housing market is showing signs of life, which will aid local wood product manufacturers. Coupled with a weakening Canadian dollar, manufacturing output is estimated to increase 3.4 per cent in 2014.

But this CMA is still recovering from the 2008-09 global recession, as output remained eight per cent less than its 2007 peak.

In the construction industry, new home building provided the majority of the 6.7 per cent rise recorded in 2012, and 1.7 per cent in 2013, due to construction of multi-family units.

The new housing market is expected to drop 13.5 per cent, as home builders are projecting to break ground on 650 units in 2014. But this is an improvement from the 365 and 371 units built in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

On the non-residential side, the $748-million Ruskin Dam and powerhouse upgrades, and the $40-million Silver Creek industrial park in Mission are expected to keep that sector in the positive.

The outlook released Wednesday is the second of two this year. The first, which covered 13 other CMAs, was published at the beginning of 2014.

The CBC is a not-for-profit, non-partisan research organization.

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