Boosting population: Echos of the self-sufficiency agenda

According to the latest Labour Force Survey there were 487,500 people in New Brunswick aged 15-64 – the population that feeds the labour market.   Here is a question for you.  What do you think the population in this age group was back in October 1990?


Twenty-four years later and the population in New Brunswick between the age of 15-64 had declined marginally.

Across Canada?

The population in this age group is up by 5.4 million.

If New Brunswick had seen its population in this age group grow by just the national rate of growth over this period, there would be 143,000 more people in New Brunswick. With an employment rate of around 65% in this age group that would mean 93,000 more people working in New Brunswick.

At an average level of income, that would translate into roughly $4.2 billion worth of incremental labour income.

Which would result in roughly $6 billion worth of increased GDP.

Which would mean just about $1 billion in tax revenue for the provincial government.

Would we be having the demography, economy, fiscal health – etc. debate right now?



2 thoughts on “Boosting population: Echos of the self-sufficiency agenda

  1. Your though experiment assumes that the jobs would have been there for these people. That’s a big assumption is it not?

    If the New Brunswick population in this age group had grown by the national rate of growth over this period, what we would have today is a much higher unemployment rate in the province.

    Why? Because during this period of time the growth rate of our businesses, the rate of business creation and the rate of foreign investment was lower than the national average.

    It’s not a chicken and the egg situation.

    People follow jobs and perceived economic opportunity.

    Let’s address what’s limiting the growth of our businesses and foreign investment. If successful, the rest will attend to itself.

    It’s sad to hear the pundits cry out about demographic challenges: we need more babies, we need more immigrants, we need more skilled labour, our population is getting older… what will we do, we need to do something don’t we???

    They should all give their heads a good shake, that’s not how the world works.

    People follow opportunity not the other way around.

  2. My wife and I live in Surrey, BC. We now own two income properties in Dalhousie (NB) and a friend of mine just bought a tax auction property last week that I’m managing. We’re not from the area, but I’ve been lucky to tap into a network of people from the town. I believe that parts of New Brunswick offer excellent real estate values and there is a lot of potential in the area. Where else in Canada can I invest in a town with a deep water port, natural beauty and the possibility of fracking (good. bad or indifferent) at rounding error pricing compared to BC? It’s also a great retirement area. However, I sometimes swear that everyone is shooting themselves in the foot. The town seems indifferent to information requests (I asked about zoning and other information on one property – no answer other than an initial response – and more recently basic sewer / water information – nothing), everything seems to be a cash economy (I suspect that the real unemployment rate is better than advertised because of this and I’ve wondered how this affects the provincial coffers), few businesses have web sites or email, and if they do they don’t respond typically. Since we’re 4 hours behind, this makes doing business harder. The people are great but it seems very insular also. I will keep investing because I believe in the town and the region but the change will have to happen in small bits, such as basic skills training. An attitude change that is open to investment and competing is also needed. I may be flamed, but I’m calling it like I see it with the hope that things will change. I think part of the problem is that the area is like Detroit – rich for a long time, but going through wrenching structural changes that are very stressful, so change is hard.

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