Oh, Canada!

Canadian flag and office building

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: If the housing market and credit crunch have got you down, it might be time to consider a move to Canada.

The economy there is booming, currency is strong and it might be easier to land a job: the country's unemployment rate hit a 33-year low today.

And even though Canada exports most of its stuff to the U.S., the country so far has avoided the clutches of our economic downturn. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.


Janet Babin: Canada's unemployment rate hasn't been this low since we were dealing with Watergate and long lines for gasoline.

Bodhi Ganguli at Moody's economy.com says the bright jobs picture creates a self reinforcing cycle:

Bodhi Ganguli: It is putting a lot of income in the hands of the people to spend, which is causing domestic demand -- consumer demand -- to stay very high. That is actually what's driving the economy mainly.

There's also housing starts -- they were higher than expected; Canada doesn't have a lot of exposure to subprime mortgage losses -- and the country's reaping big profits from its treasure trove of commodities. Prices on things like wheat, copper and oil have more than doubled over the last year.

Ganguli: Global demand for these commodities is very high which is pushing up their prices and helping Canadians earn a lot of revenue that way.

But maybe there's more going on here. The economic upturn is boosting national pride. Canadians are buying more of their own products.

Jamie Grace is COO of software company X-Silva Systems.

Jamie Grace: There's an economic push, there's a cultural push and then there's a government push to say "look, be Canadian, buy Canadian, be proud of Canada, be proud of yourselves...

But economists say the north is not an island, so it won't be able to avoid our problems forever. Ganguli says Canada sells almost 80 percent of its exports to us:

Ganguli: Overall there is going to be an effect and yes, the Canadian economy will slow down a little bit as a result of the U.S. slowdown, but they will not go into recession.

The echo effect will likely come mid-year.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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