Thunder Bay District tops the charts in Northern Ontario

July 2, 2019 - This blog first appeared in the November 2018 edition of The Walleye


What’s the most popular thing in the world? Arguably, after food and drink, it’s music! So let’s delve into some statistics on music for the Thunder Bay District, Northwestern Ontario, and Northern Ontario in general.

Let’s start by looking at Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey and the 2016 Census to see the number of people working in music-related occupations. In this case, music-related occupations is defined as musicians, singers, conductors, composers, arrangers, producers, directors, choreographers, and related occupations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the districts of Thunder Bay, Algoma, Greater Sudbury, and Nipissing, which contain the four large urban municipalities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and North Bay, have the highest number of people employed in music-related occupations, both nominally and proportionately.

In 2011, there were 105 people in the Thunder Bay District that worked in music-related occupations. This represents 87.5 per cent of all people who worked in music-related occupations in Northwestern Ontario, and approximately 21.2 per cent of said population in Northern Ontario as a whole. In 2016, this number jumped to 155 people working in music-related occupations in the Thunder Bay District. This accounted for approximately 81.6 per cent of the Northwest’s and 24.4 per cent of Northern Ontario’s population working in music-related occupations.

Next, let’s look at Statistics Canada’s Canadian Business Counts to identify the number of businesses in music-related industries. In this case, music-related industries is defined as musical groups and artists, musical theatre and opera companies, sound recording industries, radio broadcasting, and musical instrument and supplies stores.

In June 2011, there were 19 businesses in music-related industries in the Thunder Bay District, accounting for approximately 67.9 per cent of all music-related businesses in the Northwest and 18.6 per cent of said businesses in Northern Ontario as a whole. In June 2016, this number was 31 businesses in the Thunder Bay District, which accounted for approximately 78.8 per cent of all music-related businesses in the Northwest and 22.3 per cent of said businesses in Northern Ontario. Following a somewhat similar trend as music-related occupations, the Districts of Thunder Bay and Greater Sudbury, which contain the only two metropolitan areas in Northern Ontario (Thunder Bay and Sudbury), had the highest number and proportion of businesses in music-related industries in Northern Ontario.

Finally, let’s consider the economic potential of music-related occupations and industries by assessing their rates of change. From 2011 to 2016, the number of people employed in music-related occupations in Thunder Bay grew by 50 people, an increase of approximately 47.6 per cent over five years. In the same period, Northwestern Ontario experienced an increase of 70 people employed in music-related occupations, a growth rate of approximately 58.3 per cent over five years. In this case, the Northwest vastly outpaced the Northeast, which only saw a five-year cumulative growth rate of 18.7 per cent.

In terms of businesses in music-related industries, Thunder Bay District saw an increase of 12 businesses from June 2011 to June 2016, a five-year cumulative growth rate of 63.2 per cent. This was the highest rate amongst all of the Districts in the Northwest and the third highest amongst all of the Districts in Northern Ontario. During this time period, the Northwest saw an increase of 14 businesses in music-related industries, or 50 per cent over five years. The growth rate of music-related businesses in the Northwest was higher than that in the Northeast, which saw a 31.1 per cent increase over five years.

All things considered, it would appear that the musical future is quite bright for Northwestern Ontario, and Thunder Bay District in particular. As Willie Nelson once said, “the life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again”…

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Allan Zhang was a Data analyst at NPI.

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