Youth Retention Would Generate Billions for Economy, Reports Halifax Partnership


HALIFAX, NS, June 24, 2015 – Youth retention is Nova Scotia’s best opportunity to turn the Province’s finances around reports the Halifax Partnership’s 2015 Halifax Index being released tomorrow afternoon. The report calls on the private sector, government and post-secondary institutions to take action on retaining the thousands of youth that leave the province each year.

“There is no silver bullet solution to our economic challenges in Nova Scotia,” says Fred Morley, Executive Vice President and Chief Economist at the Partnership. “However, eliminating net youth out migration would double Nova Scotia’s GDP growth rate and make us the fastest growing province in Canada.”

On average, 1,300 people on net between the ages of 20 and 29 leave Nova Scotia each year for other provinces, and that doesn’t include international students who come to Nova Scotia to study and then leave the country. The loss of those 1,300 means an estimated $1.2 billion less in lifetime after-tax income, and an estimated $46.4 million in net future taxes, after program expenditures. A focus on retaining new university graduates would have yielded well over $1 billion in provincial revenue over the last decade.  

“Given Halifax’s concentration of universities and colleges and its diverse economy, our city has an opportunity to become the best place for young people to live and work,” says Morley. “We need cooperative action from all sectors and more leadership from the business community to make this happen.”  

The Halifax Index reports that Halifax’s economy made a strong showing in 2014 and is expected to perform even better in 2015, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Halifax GDP grew by 2.6% in 2014 – tied for 7th fastest growth out of 28 cities – and the city’s population grew by 1.1% from 2013 to 2014, to over 414,000. 

In 2015, Halifax is tied for the fastest forecasted growth in GDP at 3.1%, along with much faster employment growth of 2.0%, reflecting broad-based growth led by the manufacturing sector as construction of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships begins at the Halifax Shipyard.  

“Halifax’s economic outlook is more promising than it has been in decades,” says Morley. “Having one of the best growth rates is attractive to entrepreneurs and high-growth companies looking to locate or expand their business.” 

Also included in this year’s Halifax Index is a special analysis on Halifax’s start-up community. Start-ups are drawing private investment to Halifax and using that capital to create high-paying jobs. Last year, Halifax-based start-ups attracted more than $26 million in equity investment, and developed a workforce for about 1,000 people. 

2015 Halifax Index: Key Findings Highlights

Published annually by the Halifax Partnership, The Halifax Index is an in-depth analysis of Halifax’s economic and community progress benchmarked against five other cities - St. John’s, Quebec City, London, Regina, and Victoria – across a number of indicators. The Halifax Index reports on the strength of Halifax’s economy, the health of the community, and the sustainability of the environment as well as providing insights for actions that will strengthen and grow our city. 


Halifax’s population grew by 1.1% from 2013 to 2014, to over 414,000. Growth was on par with the national average and third among benchmark cities. (pg. 17)

Population growth was supported by improvements in both out-of-province and international migration to Halifax, which contributed to faster-than-usual growth of over 2,600 people in the 25-39 age group. (pg. 17)

University enrolment in Halifax reached its highest level yet during the 2013-14 school year, driven particularly by another year of significant growth in international students, which now account for 17% of enrolments. (pg. 20)


Halifax’s GDP grew by 2.6% to $18.9 billion in 2014, second among benchmark cities. GDP per capita grew by 1.5% to $45,700 in 2014, tied for the fastest growth among benchmark cities. (pg. 33)

The Halifax housing market continued to slide in 2014 as apartment starts returned to average levels after a three-year boom. (pg. 37)

The Halifax Gateway has been expanding and diversifying in recent years. The airport had a record year for both passenger and cargo movements in 2014. (pg. 42)

Business confidence saw a slight pickup in 2015. About 81% of businesses are optimistic about their current economic prospect in Halifax. (pg. 43)

Quality of Place

Total and violent crime rates continued to fall in 2013, both down 30% over the previous five years and at their lowest levels on record. (pg. 49)

Halifax’s per capita personal income grew by 2.3% in 2014, third fastest among benchmark cities and outpacing increases in the cost of living. (pg. 51)

Perceptions of physical and mental health picked up in 2013. Halifax residents also reported higher levels of activity during leisure time and lower smoking rates than the national average. (pg. 52)

Employment in arts, culture, recreation, and sport dipped in 2014, but remained the second highest percentage of total employment among benchmark cities. (pg. 55)


Recent trends in housing construction and building permits indicate that investors and developers are betting on renewed growth in the Regional Centre. The Halifax Central Library and The Nova Centre are driving the value of building permits in the downtown. (pg. 57)

Halifax residential and commercial waste levels remained steady at historic lows in 2014-15. The proportion of waste diverted from landfills through recycling and composting picked up slightly to 62%, one of the highest in the country. (pg. 59)

Municipality revenue and expenditure grew by a modest 2.5% in 2014-15. The overall tax burden as a share of GDP decreased slightly in real terms. (pg. 60)

To download the complete 2015 Halifax Index visit

Media Contact:

Krista Juurlink

Manager, Communications

Halifax Partnership

(c) 233-9170

(o) 490-7105

About the Halifax Partnership 

The Halifax Partnership is Halifax’s economic development organization. We help keep, grow and get business, talent and investment in Halifax. We do this through leadership on economic issues, our core programs, our partnerships across all sectors, and by marketing Halifax to the world.