In 1960 the population of Niagara Falls in the US was officially recorded as 102,394. In the 2010 census it was recorded as 50.193. Meanwhile, across the Rainbow Bridge, the population of Niagara Falls Ontario has risen from 22,000 to 83,000.
Does this mean that the Canadian economy is thriving better than the US economy?
Yes and no….
In recent years Canada has done relatively well economically. In the past 10 years Canadian GDP has grown cumulatively by 34% while the US economy has grown by 17%.
In both cities, manufacturing work has disappeared. But in Canada service sector work has grown, particularly driven by tourism. The views of Niagara Falls from the Canadian side are generally acknowledged to be much better – as we confirmed in a flying visit today. So most websites advise tourists to view the falls from that side – see our picture of the American Falls from no mans’ land in the middle of the Rainbow Bridge between the two cities.
But the Canadian economy has also been well managed, with taxes being reduced as a share of GDP from 44% in 1997 to 38% this year, while preserving the levels of most public services. And famously its Central Bank Governor, Mark Carney, was headhunted for the Bank of England.
One Canadian decision which might have implications elsewhere is that it phased out one cent pieces (called pennies) on 4 February of this year.Cash payments for amounts ending in 1, 2, 6 and 7 cents are rounded down by 1 or 2 cents while those ending in 3, 4, 8 and 9 are rounded up. This seems to have passed through surprisingly painlessly.
The weakness of the US Niagara Falls economy has one benefit. Low property prices have encouraged immigrants to move to the city. And as a result, it has some of the best curry houses in the USA!
Douglas McWilliams, Cebr Chairman
For previous updates in Doug’s US travel series, please see below: