Canadian Manufacturing

Halifax to see unemployment rate drop to four per cent: report

Addition of 12,000 new jobs in region anticipated due to shipbuilding contracts

Halifax—Employment growth in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) is expected to strengthen rapidly through 2016, with the addition of about 12,000 new jobs as shipbuilding activity ramps up, according to a new report.

According to BMO Capital Markets Economics’ new report, Halifax: Growth in its Sails, the additional jobs will bring the unemployment rate to pre-recession levels of four per cent.

“The BMO outlook delivers good news to both our residents and investors in the Halifax economy,” Greater Halifax Partnership executive vice-president and chief economist Fred Morley said in a statement. “We have been working hard to diversify our economy while drawing on our strengths such as shipbuilding, and matching new employment and career opportunities for residents with companies seeking an excellent return on their investment.”

BMO district vice-president of Nova Scotia Laura Charlton is encouraging HRM businesses to take advantage of credit and financing available to them as business begins to pick up ahead of the shipbuilding boom in Nova Scotia’s capital.

“The contract landed by Irving Shipbuilding to build combat ships for the Royal Canadian Navy will support the Halifax manufacturing and construction sectors for the next decade,” BMO Capital Markets economist Robert Kavcic said.

Real estate

Existing home sales totaled nearly 6,600 units in the twelve months to June 2012, according to BMO, the highest level since 2008.

Average prices continue to push to record levels, up 1.1 per cent year-over-year in June at just over $270,000.

However, the economics firm said housing remains affordable in the city, with average prices clocking in at less than four times estimated median family income—well below Canada’s other major cities.

Non-residential construction has also been strong in recent years, according to BMO, boosted by government stimulus spending and other development such as King’s Wharf.

Further growth is expected going forward.

Population growth

Population growth has slowed in Nova Scotia to 1.3 per cent from nearly two per cent prior to the recession, raising significant concerns as the demand for skilled labour in HRM is expected to ramp up in the coming years.

International immigration is supporting growth, but inter-provincial emigration remains a concern, according to the report.

The report claims Nova Scotia saw net outward migration of nearly 3,700 people in the past year.

The report on HRM is the latest in a series of economic and business overviews for various cities across Canada that will be published by BMO throughout the year.

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