Nova Scotia has received another positive outlook on its economic future. BMO Capital Markets released a special report today on Halifax, and they see big things coming; more production, employment and housing starts.
In the short-term, preparatory work at Halifax Shipyard and major projects across the province should boost real GDP growth from 0.3% in 2011 to 2.3% in 2013. This is expected to ramp up by 2016, with over 12,000 jobs added and Halifax's unemployment rate dropping to 4%. Major employment growth is expected to trigger plenty of consumer demand, including housing starts and sales, and retail markets getting a boost. While a hot housing market generally means increased prices, housing remains relatively affordable in Halifax in comparison to other major cities and has room to grow.
Population growth has slowed but continues to be above national averages. Buoyed by international immigration, Nova Scotia continues to add to its population, although outflows to Alberta and other provinces present a cause for concern, particularly if those outflows are in skilled labour.
This brings us to the “what does this mean to me?” portion of this piece. First, BMO is urging Halifax businesses to get their share of capital available in the market to make the investments in people and equipment necessary to maximize growth. Furthermore, government programs are available to provide assistance in developing your workforce or for making capital investments.
Second, I urge you to take a look at the economic impact work that the Greater Halifax Partnership completed on the shipbuilding contract. The breadth and depth of a major project like this has significant impact in a large number of industries.
People typically focus on the direct beneficiaries (the Shipyard, metal workers, defence), however understanding how indirect and induced economic activity works should make a range of folks excited. A few examples:
- More businesses and greater activity means a need for accountants, IT companies, lawyers, banks and other professionals;
- More employment and wages lead to more spending within the local economy; that means more haircuts, dry cleaning, cars, houses, groceries and nights out at a restaurant or taking in a show.
So when considering how major projects in Nova Scotia are driving economic growth, consider whether this is the time for your business to take that next step even if you aren’t building a ship. Expansion within an expanding market makes a lot of sense, and our SmartBusiness team can help you understand what might be available to you and how you can take advantage.
Author: David Fleming
David is the Junior Economist and Project Development Coordinator at the Greater Halifax Partnership. He studied Economics and Philosophy at the University of Prince Edward Island, and has experience working with private, public and non-profit organizations.