Sudbury PoV: Job losses cause for concern – Don MacDonald (Sudbury Star – October 14, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The numbers are depressing — 4,200 jobs gone in Greater Sudbury since June, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. At the same time, Sudbury’s unemployment rate has jumped from 5.9 to 7.3 per cent.

StatsCan said Sudbury had 84,700 jobs in June; that number dropped to 81,700 in September.

It seems likely the bleeding will continue: in recent months, First Nickel announced it would close Lockerby Mine, while KGHM International will be shutting down its McCreedy West Mine. With that, several hundred jobs will be or have been lost.

The companies blame low metal prices, especially for nickel, for their decisions. Analysts earlier in 2015 had predicted nickel would be selling at $9 a pound or so by this time; instead, nickel is well below $5.

Now, there is speculation Glencore, another key employer in Sudbury, is looking at cutting nickel production.

Not only is the market hurting producers, it is also affecting the city’s mining supply and services sector. More than 10,000 Sudburians work in the sector, so a global downturn is bad for those companies and its workers.

Sudbury, of course, has seen this before. Too much nickel and copper on the market and not enough demand. However, as global activity, especially in China, picks up, expect that to change.

The problem is, no one can ever be sure when that turnaround will occur or how strong it will be. In the meantime, Sudbury’s job market continues to soften. It is an issue the city’s leaders – city councillors in particular – may need to address.

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