Calgary census numbers show more people left Calgary than arrived last year256 views
Laura Hahn thought she’d have no problem landing a job after a year abroad teaching English with her boyfriend in Thailand.
Born and raised in the Calgary area, the 22-year-old began looking for work on her return, but after 10 months of futility has finally thrown in the towel.
Wednesday was her last day at a part-time receptionist job that gave her just one-and-a-half days of work weekly, giving her extra time to plan a move in September with her boyfriend Daniel Payne to Nanaimo, B.C., suddenly a land of opportunity compared to Calgary.
“I have been looking for work ever since we moved back,” she said.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be living in B.C. — but the job market there is really good compared to here.”
While the couple still count as Calgary citizens in 2016, next year they’ll join a troubling trend of people leaving the city that reached a high not seen in decades.
The city on Wednesday released its 2016 census, which saw more than 6,500 people pack their bags and leave, roughly bucking an almost annual trend of massive annual migration to the city dating back to the late 1980s.
While Calgary’s population actually grew by 4,256 in 2016, jumping to 1.235 million, the primary reason is attributed to a natural increase (the difference between births and deaths) of 10,783.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said given the city’s economic struggles over the last couple years, the fact some have chosen to look elsewhere for opportunities comes as no surprise.
“As expected in this economic downturn, growth has slowed in the City of Calgary, but we continue to grow,” he said, noting the city experienced a similar dip at the tail end of the last recession.
Only a year ago, Calgary remained a sizzling hot destination, with a net migration of 24,909 in 2015. That sky-high figure was only surpassed in 2013 and 2014.
But with the economic swoon leading to sweeping layoffs and a tightening job market, those who once saw Calgary as a beacon of opportunity are trying their luck elsewhere.
While that may sound gloomy, the mayor said it actually may be a boon for city planners.
“It gives us a chance to take a breather, and gives us a chance to catch up with ourselves,” he said.
“So we can use this to revisit our budget projections and our expense projections, perhaps allowing us to spend a little bit less as we continue to catch up.”
Though Calgary’s unemployment levels reached 7.9% last month, some 63.52% of the city’s population were employed, with a record 637,781 reporting they had jobs.
But for those like Hahn, the battle to find employment in a withering work environment will have her looking for new horizons.
“I have a good resume with five years of experience and good references,” she said.
“But there are just so many people needing jobs right now. We left for an adventure in Thailand and when we came back it was completely different.
“We have our two vehicles and not a lot of stuff, so we’re just going to give it a try somewhere else.”
On Twitter: @ShawnLogan403
2016 Calgary census by the numbers:
1,235,171 — Calgary’s population as of April 2016
4,256 — The number of new residents compared to 2015
6,527 — The number of people who left the city compared to 2015
10,783 — The natural increase (births over deaths)
499,222 — The total number of dwelling units in the city, a 1.32% increase from 2015
20,843 — The number of vacant dwelling units in Calgary, up 8,317 from 2015
9,508 — The number of dwellings under construction
69.78 — Percentage of owner-occupied homes
2,040 — The population growth in the southeast community of Mahogany, the community that saw the most growth in 2016
6,322 — The number of new residents in Southeast Calgary’s Ward 12, which saw the most growth in 2016
2,114 — The number of residents who left east Calgary’s Ward 10, which saw the most negative growth in 2016
News Source Calgary Sun