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Gross Domestic Product (GDP)


GDP helps us understand how productive a region is and the return on investment in employment. In 2012, Halifax’s real GDP was over $15 billion for the first time, accounting for 54.6% of the total value of goods and services produced in Nova Scotia. This was up from 50.2% in 2011. 

Halifax’s real GDP grew by 1.4% in 2012, slightly below the national average and third highest among its benchmark cities. Looking at future growth, 2013 is expected to be a more robust year with The Conference Board of Canada projecting growth of 2.3%, and ranking Halifax thirteenth among the 28 cities listed in their Metropolitan Outlook report. The uptick in growth is largely related to increased activity in the construction and manufacturing sectors, including several smaller contracts at Halifax Shipyard that preceded the estimated $25 billion federal shipbuilding contract. 


Source: Conference Board of Canada


Source: Conference Board of Canada, Statistics Canada



Halifax’s productivity - its output per person - continued to be significantly below the Canadian average, although it had moved to third among benchmark cities. Halifax’s output per person grew by only 0.1% in 2012, below the Canadian average of 0.7%, and ranked higher than only St. John’s, whose productivity fell in 2012 after a lackluster year in resource markets. 

Nova Scotia has relatively high rates of participation in job-related training – 40% of the adult workforce participated in job-related training in 2008, second among benchmark provinces and above the national average of 36%. Further, this percentage has increased from 35% in 1997. While this is positive, the amount of training that the adult workforce in Nova Scotia (36 hours in 2008) is receiving is well below the national average of 49 hours per year and well below any of its benchmark provinces. 


Investments in research and development are crucial to long-term economic growth. They are the impetus for new products, technologies, and processes that can be exported to create large-scale growth. Nova Scotia’s gross domestic expenditures stagnated between 2006 and 2009, mirroring national trends. Per capita, Nova Scotians invested $532 in research and development in 2009, significantly below the national average of $873. When looking at the funders of research per capita, federal investment in Nova Scotia was at national averages (Can $175 – NS $174), and higher education funding was greater (Can $152 – NS $198). However, business enterprise (Can $406 – NS $198), provincial investment (Can $47 – NS $11), and foreign investment (Can $64 – NS $10) were all considerably below national averages. This will be covered further in the special analysis on Innovation. 

Low growth is a negative drag on virtually every indicator in the Index. As such, ensuring our employees are productive and our companies are investing in research and training is vital to the Halifax’s long-term success.


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