When considering the health of an economy, economists consider a number of economic indicators. They often look at indicators such as employment, wages and salaries, manufacturing and exports. These and other indicators lead to economic growth which is quantified by the increase in the Gross Domestic Product of the province. But regular people can usually only tell how their communities are doing economically by seeing the ways that their lives are impacted. Do they have a good job? Does their neighbor? Are the stores and malls busy? Are people moving to town? Are we growing?
All around New Brunswick, people are answering yes to those questions.
Growth could mean a new housing development sprouting up on a lot that sat vacant for years. It could mean more full-time positions available on job boards, or steadier streams of customers flowing in and out of that trendy clothing boutique downtown. It could mean bakeries using New Brunswick blueberries in their pies, smart grid start-ups accessing private capital, or even companies from down the road being featured on national news.
That much was made clear with the release of The New Brunswick Economy: 2017 in Review earlier this year. With Canada’s GDP growth rate exceeding expectations, each province in the country was able to reap the benefits of that growth while writing their own individual stories at the same time.
New Brunswick was no different. Our province’s real GDP took a step forward for the fourth year in a row, with growth rates in New Brunswick approaching 2 per cent. Although this level of growth is just a number to most people, we see New Brunswick’s strengthening economy reflected across a number of more human measures.
The unemployment rate dropped for the fourth consecutive year; wages and salaries rose by 3.3 per cent; private and public sector capital investment increased to $3.6 billion; and retail trade grew by 6.8 per cent, which was its highest rate of growth since 1999.
That means more people are working and they’re earning higher salaries. There’s more investment in New Brunswick and more products are flying off the shelves of the province’s stores.
This growth is a result of a carefully developed strategy created by the provincial government along with business, community and academic partners. The Government of New Brunswick’s Economic Growth Plan, released in 2016, identified promising growth opportunities that either took advantage of existing strengths within the province, or took aim at emerging industries that leaders felt New Brunswick could succeed with well into the future.
While there is much more work to be done, there is also real progress to explore, analyze and celebrate from these past few years. New Brunswick is getting bigger and better every day.
Our population is at an all-time high, and the economy itself is 5.5 per cent bigger than it was in 2014. If you ask manufacturers, or wood and mineral producers, or cannabis businesses, or cybertechnology firms how they’re doing, they might all focus on different things, but their responses would have one sentence in common: “We’re doing great, and we’ll be doing even better next year.”