Economy

Investment in major projects – those valued at $25 million or higher – has been a key driver in Halifax’s economic growth in recent years. In 2015, spending on major project activity in Halifax reached a record high $1.6 billion.

Key Findings

  • 2015 was a strong year for Halifax’s GDP growth. The Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) estimates the city’s real GDP grew by 2.8% in 2015 to $19.1 billion – the fourth fastest among Canada’s 28 largest cities. Growth was led by manufacturing (especially shipbuilding) and the construction sector, supported by strong major project activity.
                          Real GDP

  • The Conference Board of Canada expects another strong year in 2016, projecting GDP growth of 2.9% – the second fastest in Canada – led by continued strength in manufacturing and construction, as well as steady growth in the service sector.

  • The oil price slump and weaker Canadian dollar affected Halifax consumers in 2015. Overall, consumer prices grew by a very modest 0.5%, but that masks larger shifts in specific products. The global oil price slump meant that Nova Scotians paid a lot less for gasoline and home heating fuel, but the weaker Canadian dollar caused a significant increase in the price of imported foods. Lower gasoline prices held overall retail sales growth to 0.4%; non-gasoline sales, however, grew by a more robust 3.2%.
                     Growth in Personal Income


  • Both residential and non-residential construction saw considerable strength in 2015. On the residential side, near-record-high levels of apartment unit starts drove a big year, despite continued weakness in the market for single-detached homes. On the non-residential side, investment in buildings picked up 22% over 2014 levels, and non-building, engineering projects also provided significant activity.
                        Single-detached homes graph

 

  • Business confidence picked up this year, according to the Partnership’s Business Confidence Index (BCI), to its highest level since measurement began in 2011. The Business Confidence Survey indicated that Halifax businesses are showing increased optimism around both current and future prospects, and have improved their rating of Halifax as a place to do business.   
           

          Business Confidence  


Key Opportunity

The current low value of the Canadian dollar makes Nova Scotia exports more attractive internationally and increases interest in the Port of Halifax as a shipping destination. The impending ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe provides a significant opportunity for shipping Nova Scotia products like seafood into the European market – already the province’s second largest export destination.


Download the full 2016 Halifax Index for more information on the following topics in this section:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Key Sectors
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Construction
  • Gateway Movement
  • Business Confidence

Halifax Index Cover

The Halifax Index 2016 (pdf)