Greater Halifax Partnership Releases 2014 Halifax Index

Population Growth Key to Halifax’s Economic Success

Halifax, NOVA SCOTIA – The greatest economic challenge Halifax faces is weak population growth according to the Greater Halifax Partnership’s 2014 Halifax Index released today at the 2014 State of the Economy Conference.

The good news is that Halifax’s population is growing. The bad news is that it only grew marginally last year – by four tenths of one percent. This is slower than most Canadian cities, slower than Halifax’s benchmark cities, and half the normal rate of growth.

“Population growth matters. It drives the economic health of our city and region because it supports business, provides a vibrant labour force, and grows our tax base,” says Fred Morley, Executive Vice- President and Chief Economist at Greater Halifax Partnership. “We need to get serious about attracting and retaining talent.” 

Since 2001, migration has accounted for two thirds of Halifax’s population growth. Weak population growth in 2013 was due to declining immigration and a large spike in Halifax residents moving west to other provinces. 

“We need to hang on to more new graduates and immigrants,” says Morley. “Retaining the growing number of international students studying in Halifax represents a major opportunity. We can do this by creating more entry-level career opportunities for young professionals, both international and domestic.”

The 2014 State of the Economy Conference comes at a critical time, providing a forum for the community to act on the Ivany Report.  The response is the launch of the Halifax Innovation Ecosystem, a new way for people across sectors in Halifax to work together on common social and economic goals such as talent attraction and retention.

The Halifax Index outlines both Halifax’s major challenges and opportunities to economic and social progress. In addition to attracting and retaining youth and immigrants, our key opportunities lie in increasing cross-sectoral investments and collaboration in R&D; improving living affordability; increasing density in the Regional Centre; attracting and retaining head and regional offices; and in Halifax becoming a major centre for big data research and business. 

The Halifax Index is a definitive look at Halifax's economic and community progress measured against five benchmark cities - Quebec City, QC; London, ON; Regina, SK; Victoria, BC; and St. John’s, NFLD. - across a range of key indicators. The Index tells the city’s story – the strength of our economy, the health of our community, and the sustainability of our environment – and provides insights for actions that will strengthen and grow our city.  

2014 Halifax Index Key Findings


  • Halifax’s population grew by only 0.4% from 2012 to 2013, the slowest growth among benchmark cities. This was due to below-average immigration (only 1,600 net international migrants) and a large spike in Halifax residents moving west to other provinces. (pg 12-13)
  • University enrolments grew by twice the national average in 2011 and community college enrolment continued to grow at a strong pace in 2013. (pg 14)
  • Employment grew at a moderate pace in 2013, outpacing a number of benchmark cities. Unemployment crept up to 6.6%, but remained well below the national average. (pg 16)


  • Halifax’s GDP grew by 1.9% to $18.1 billion in 2013, keeping pace with the national average and third fastest growth among benchmark cities. (pg 26)
  • The housing market cooled in 2013, with housing starts dropping to just over 2,400, due almost entirely to slowing demand for single-detached housing. (pg 28)
  • Movements of people and cargo through the Halifax Gateway continued to show strength in 2013, with the airport marking its third busiest year and the Port seeing another near-record year for cruise ship activity. (pg 32)
  • Business confidence slipped for the second year in a row, but remained relatively positive. About 80% of businesses are optimistic about their current economic prospects in Halifax. (pg 33)

Quality of Place

  • Both total and violent crime rates fell to their lowest levels on record in 2012, with total crime rates dipping below the national average for the first time. (pg 41-42)
  • Income growth outpaced the national average in 2013 and was second among benchmark cities, outpacing the growth in cost of living.  (pg 43)
  • Overall life satisfaction in Halifax remains very high however sense of belonging dipped a little. (pg 45)
  • Employment in arts, culture, recreation, and sport reached its highest level on record at 9,400. (pg 47)


  • Recent trends in housing construction and building permits suggest that investors and developers are betting on renewed growth in the Regional Centre. (pg 49)
  • Public transit ridership grew by 1.9% in 2013-14, keeping pace with growth in service hours of 2.1%. (pg 50)
  • Halifax residential and commercial waste levels continued a long-term decline in 2012-13, both falling by about 5% per capita. (pg 51)

To download the complete 2014 Halifax Index visit


Krista Hall

Manager, Communications

Greater Halifax Partnership

(c) 223-9170

(o) 490-7105