This report presents an analysis of the purchasing power and the financial situation of households in the Québec City census metropolitan area (CMA) in 2022. The increased inflation has impacted household finances in 2022, decreasing their purchasing power despite an increase in salaries and personal disposable income per capita.
Despite this situation, the number of bankruptcies dropped by 17% in 2022, down for the fourth year in a row. The consumption, adjusted for inflation, fell slighty by 0.4%. The real estate market continued the trend started in 2021, with the prices of single-family houses growing by 13.2%. Meanwhile, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment increased by 3.3%.
Nevertheless, the average price of a single-family house ($370,008) in the Québec City CMA remains one of the lowest among major Canadian CMAs, while the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is the most affordable.
Projections by the Bank of Canada show that consumers continue to expect high inflation over the next five years, while the Conference Board of Canada expects inflation to slow down starting as soon as next year. Projections also show that salaries are likely to continue to grow in the coming years.
Despite having one of the highest average annual salaries, the Québec City CMA was harshly hit by inflation, which affected not only the food basket but also the real-estate market in 2022. The paragraphs below highlight a number of important points that can be made from these results.
Housing needs have become a reality …
Although the region maintained one of the lowest average prices for a single-family house, data shows that Québec City is among the CMAs that had the highest real-estate price hikes. The 13.2% rise in the price of a single-family dwelling placed the region behind Vancouver but before Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary (to name but a few) in terms of price variation.
In the rental market, the CMA had the lowest average rent in 2022, before Montréal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and others. However, this advantage is undermined by the availability of housing and the lack of variety to meet the needs of the different types of households. The housing vacancy rate stood at 1.5% in the CMA in 2022, one of the lowest rates among the eight major CMAs.
Due to this, despite prices still being relatively affordable for both residential and rental units, the region’s real estate market was marked by scarcity in 2022. This could even be called a tight market considering the soaring prices, the especially low vacancy rate and the drop in the number of units completed (13%). This scarcity, combined with inflation, led to a significant decline in house sales (26%) in the fourth quarter of 2022.
While the region’s labour market forces economic stakeholders to focus on attracting skilled workers, it is essential to reflect on a more proactive housing policy in the short term to better welcome new workers who could help mitigate labour shortages and reduce the number of vacant positions.
Increased salaries combined with a low unemployment rate …
The annual unemployment rate of 2.9%, along with labour scarcity, put pressure on salaries in 2022. This is shown by the fact that the region broke several records in each quarter of 2022 in terms of the number of vacant positions (Vacant positions Q2–2022). The region’s labour market was tense throughout the year as labour needs persisted.
These labour market conditions could extend the inflationary climate that has a strong impact on the food basket, energy and real estate.