Vital Signs 2015


Hamilton had a strong economic year in 2010 as measured by employment, building permits, and office vacancy rates across the city. Real estate sales have held steady over the last three years, and average house prices are rising. For the first half of 2011, employment has remained strong, and the number of consumer and business bankruptcies are at their lowest point in over four years, while building permits have slowed by 30% after last year’s record results.


The number of people who were employed in the Hamilton CMA in July 2011 increased by over 6,600 (1.8%) to 378,000 from July 2010. This was a higher percentage increase than in many Ontario cities, including London, Ottawa, and Windsor. Hamilton was tied with Toronto, and higher than the provincial and national average. It was behind only Kitchener-Waterloo and Oshawa.[1] Over the past three years, the number of jobs in the goods-producing sector (primarily manufacturing and construction) has increased 5.5%, while the service sector (e.g. trade, transport, health care) grew by 3.9%.[2]


Building Permits

In 2010, Hamilton had a record year with $1.1 billion in permits issued. This was an increase from $692 million in 2009 and $818 million in 2008. For the first half of 2011, permit activity was $338 million, due to a 30% decrease for both residential and non-residential construction.[3] For updated information on Hamilton building permits, visit Hamilton’s Community Wellness Indicators.

Real Estate Sales

Last year 6,764 units were sold in Hamilton. This was similar to 2009’s total of 6,887, and 2008’s total of 6,769 units. These totals are below pre-recession levels: the average number of units sold from 2003 to 2007 was 7,610 per year. The average house price climbed 12% over the last year, and 88% over the last ten years.[4]

Source of Municipal Tax Revenue

In the City of Hamilton, the non-residential sector’s share of the municipal property tax load remained at 23% in 2010 – the same as 2009 and down from 39% in 1994. Revenue for the City of Hamilton comes principally from residential property taxes, non-residential taxes, user fees and transfers from other levels of government. The balance between residential and non-residential property taxes can be used to measure the strength of the commercial and industrial sectors (or non-residential).[5]

Office Vacancy Rates

The office vacancy rates for buildings over 5,000 square feet in Hamilton dropped to 13.2% in 2010 from 20% in 2008. This measure includes all public and private buildings over 5000 ft sq.[6] The vacancy rates for non-public office buildings (primarily Class A and B space) in 2010 was 20% – down from the peak vacancies in 2004 of 28%.[7]

Consumer and Business Bankruptcies

The number of consumer and business bankruptcies in the Hamilton CMA has fallen to the lowest levels in over four years. In the first quarter of 2011, there were 372 consumer and 12 business bankruptcies. These are down from peak levels in the third quarter of 2009, when there were 758 consumer and 41 business bankruptcies.[8] For updated information on consumer and business bankruptcies, visit: Hamilton’s Community Wellness Indicators.

[1] Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey.
[2] Personal communication. Business Development Analyst. City of Hamilton, Planning and Economic Development. Based on special calculations from Statistics Canada.
[3] City of Hamilton, Community Wellness Indicators.
[4] Realtor’s Association of Hamilton-Burlington.
[5] Personal communication. City of Hamilton, Finance Department.
[6] City of Hamilton, Urban Renewal, Economic Development.
[7] Blanchard, David H, and Apostel, Evan. 2010. Downtown Office Survey, Hamilton, Ontario. Blair, Blanchard, Stapleton Ltd.
[8] City of Hamilton, Community Wellness Indicators.