Strong momentum, new challenges, broader goals

Strong momentum, new challenges, broader goals

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Ian Munro (Chief Economist, Halifax Partnership) | Published: July 6, 2022

COVID-19 remains with us and, tragically, every week we still are losing friends, neighbours, and family members to the disease. Its grip on our economy, however, has loosened, and most aspects of life are in the process of returning to normal.

Many of our economic vital signs — like GDP expansion, population growth, and the unemployment rate — are solidly in the “recovered” category. An additional 9,300 people called Halifax home last year. Our key population concern now is not bringing people to Halifax, but rather finding housing for our rising number of residents.

Halifax’s unemployment rate has plummeted over the past year and now sits at its lowest rate since the booming summer of 2019. The major issue today in our labour market is not finding jobs for unemployed people, but rather filling vacant positions. Every week seems to bring the announcement of new flight routes at Halifax Stanfield and cruise ships have returned after a two-year absence; tourism and travel are getting their groove back as well.

In addition to being the first time in a century that we are emerging from a pandemic, this marks the first time in decades that inflation, consumer purchasing power, and interest rate increases are top-of-mind concerns. Prices for housing, food, and energy have risen rapidly through 2021 and into 2022. A good chunk of our population would have no memory of living in a high-inflation environment, and few of today’s leaders and managers have experience leading and managing in one.

These twin currents — of strong economic recovery on the one hand and uncertainty and unease (in paying the rent, stocking the fridge, and filling the gas tank) on the other — result in an interesting contrast in terms of confidence. Our annual business confidence survey, carried out by Narrative Research in March, showed a record high for the Halifax Business Confidence Index. However, Narrative’s most recent consumer survey, carried out a few weeks later in May, found that their Consumer Confidence Index had hit a record low.

It is worth noting, though, that Halifax did have the highest level of consumer confidence across Atlantic Canada. More broadly, actions are underway to address the real difficulties that come with tight housing markets and rising prices. Furthermore, Halifax is in a strong position on many fundamentals that will continue to attract people and investment.

This encapsulates the essence of People. Planet. Prosperity., Halifax’s new inclusive economic strategy for 2022-2027, adopted by Regional Council in April. To meet longer-term demographic challenges, continued action is required to drive prosperity, growth in population and the labour force, and in the economy overall. But success means more than just increases in aggregate economic statistics: the state of our planet and the well-being of our people, including those who may not yet have been lifted up by the city’s rising tide, are critical as well.

Please check out the Halifax Index 2022 to review the status on a wide range of economic and social fronts and to track our progress as we pursue goals for people, planet, and prosperity.

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< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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