In Eastern Canada, a significant portion of the working-age population engages, or has engaged, with employment-related geographical mobility (E-RGM), including fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in/drive-out (DIDO) work arrangements. Many of these individuals are employed at resource development projects and commute, on rotation, between their place of work (host community) and their permanent place of residence (source community). This report examines findings from a research project conducted in two Eastern Canadian source communities: Parker’s Cove, NL and New Waterford, NS. Over the last
decade, both communities have been highly dependent on E-RGM, especially FIFO. This study examines the spending habits of mobile workers in order to better understand how these source communities have been impacted by E-RGM economically.
Existing literature states that source communities typically benefit from mobile employment through taxation (e.g. property taxes) and local spending by mobile workers, who tend to have greater earnings on average than workers employed locally. However, findings from this study suggest that the extent to which source communities see the economic benefits of FIFO is context specific. In Parker’s Cove, which has few businesses, mobile workers were more likely to spend their money in regional centres, like Marystown, or in larger urban centres, like St. John’s. As such, the ability of rural source communities to capture the economic benefits of FIFO may depend on the amenities and services available in these communities. The items on which mobile workers spent their money and the locations where they spent it demonstrated more variation than local workers. As such, this study found that the economic benefits of mobile worker spending, in the case of Parker’s Cove in particular, often spread beyond their source community.
In addition, results from this study indicate that common perceptions about the ability and tendency of mobile workers to spend money on big-ticket purchases are not applicable generally. For instance, mobile worker households in Parker’s Cove were not more likely to make big-ticket purchases than local worker households. Results suggest that spending is greater among mobile worker households, however, in categories such as food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Overall, this study sheds light on the spending habits of mobile workers and the economic opportunities and challenges rural source communities face related to mobile employment. Findings here contribute to existing literature on the socio-economic impacts of E-RGM in source communities and may be relevant to other source communities in Canada and globally.
Read the full report here.
On the Move Partnership