Change is in the air among provincial economies

Alberta to post strongest GDP growth; Manitoba and B.C. to surpass Saskatchewan this year

OTTAWA, June 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Western Canada can expect the fastest growing provincial economies in the country this year and again in 2015, with Alberta resuming its customary place at the top of the list. The near-term outlook is looking increasingly positive for Manitoba and British Columbia, while Saskatchewan's growth will slow sharply, according to the Conference Board's Provincial Outlook: Spring 2014.

"Economic prospects have brightened for several provinces, as the expected strengthening in the U.S. economy will help boost real GDP growth on this side of the border over the next two years," said Marie Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial and Territorial Forecast. "Atlantic and Central Canada are expected to gather more momentum in 2015, and even stronger growth is expected in Western Canada."

HIGHLIGHTS

     Alberta's economy is expected to grow by more than three per cent for the fifth consecutive year.
     Saskatchewan's economic growth will slow but the province will continue to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 4.3 per cent.
     After struggling for the last three years, Nova Scotia's economy will expand by 2.3 per cent, the strongest outlook outside Western Canada.

Alberta's economy will grow by 3.5 per cent in 2014 — the fifth consecutive year in which the economy's expansion comes in above the three-per-cent level. Future growth will depend increasingly on exports and consumer spending rather than investment.

Economic growth is set to pick up speed in British Columbia, with real GDP forecast to gain 2.3 per cent this year. The forestry industry is expected have another strong year, boosting output in wood products manufacturing. The job market has started to improve and employment growth is expected to do well over the near term.

Manitoba's increased public infrastructure spending is providing stimulus to the economy, supporting growth of 2.1 per cent in 2014. However, metal mining will see little growth and crop production is expected to decline this year.

Saskatchewan, which has been a growth leader among the provinces in recent years, is expected to see real GDP advance by just 0.8 per cent. Potash prices are still low and production has been cut, while the agriculture sector will feel the after-effects of the abundant crop of 2013. Yet Saskatchewan will continue to add jobs, and its unemployment rate — 4.3 per cent — will continue to be the lowest of any province.

Both Ontario and Quebec are wrestling with large fiscal deficits that will limit the ability of the provincial governments to add to economic output. Ontario's real GDP growth will improve to 1.8 per cent as the U.S. recovery picks up speed, but growth will be restrained by weak investment. A loonie that is expected to hover around US$0.91 level will benefit exporters in the province.

The Quebec economy will advance at a better pace in 2014 than in the previous two years. Real GDP is forecast to increase by 1.7 per cent on the back of stronger growth in household spending and an improvement in net exports. Growth in government spending, which accounts for nearly a quarter of Quebec's GDP, will stall this year.

After struggling for the last three years, Nova Scotia's economy will expand by 2.3 per cent, fuelled largely by natural gas production from the Deep Panuke offshore field.  In addition, Irving Shipbuilding has begun work on an upgrade to the Halifax shipyard to get it ready to build navy combat ships starting in 2015.

New investment is boosting the forestry sector in New Brunswick. The provincial labour market, which has been hemorrhaging jobs over the last four years, is beginning to recover. Along with an improved investment outlook, consumer demand should pick up, allowing real GDP to advance by a modest 1.1 per cent this year

Newfoundland and Labrador's expansion is cooling. After leading all provinces in real GDP growth last year at 7.9 per cent, Newfoundland and Labrador's economy is expected to expand by 1.3 per cent in 2014. The construction industry is expected to contract in the next two years, due primarily to the completion of Vale's nickel-processing facility and a drop in housing investment.

Prince Edward Island's economy is being weighed down by a large contraction in the construction sector this year, which will limit overall real GDP on the Island to an increase of 1.3 per cent in 2014.

Nationally, the Canadian economy is expected to grow by 2.1 per cent in 2014.

The Conference Board of Canada will host a series of webinars on the Provincial Outlook starting Wednesday.

Ontario Business Outlook WebinarWednesday, June 18, 2 p.m. EDT.

Webinaire sur les perspectives d'affaires au QuébecThursday, June 19 at 2 p.m. EDT.

British Columbia Business Outlook WebinarFriday, June 20, at 2 p.m. EDT

Atlantic Canada Business Outlook WebinarTuesday, June 24, 2 p.m. EDT

Prairie Business Outlook Webinar (focusing on Manitoba and Saskatchewan) — Wednesday, June 25, 11 a.m. EDT

Alberta Business Outlook WebinarThursday, June 26, at 1 p.m. EDT

 

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada



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