Halifax Index 2023

Strategy Scorecard

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Economic Strategy Scorecard

Together with the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Partnership led the development of People. Planet. Prosperity. Halifax’s Inclusive Economic Strategy 2022-27 that established four long-term targets.

Over the next four years, this strategy will guide us toward a prosperous and growing Halifax that puts the well-being of people and planet first. More than ever, a focus has been placed not just on the economy but on measures of well-being, affordability, and environmental impact.

As part of the Halifax Index, presented by TD, Halifax Partnership publishes an annual scorecard on our broader progress towards these objectives. Detailed below, you will find a track record of the economic and social progress we have made. In the scorecard, you can also find links to relevant sections of the Index that explore these topics in greater detail.

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Halifax Index 2023

Grow GDP

One of the goals of the Economic Strategy for 2022-27 is to reach a gross domestic product (GDP) of $25 billion (measured in real 2007 dollars) by 2027. In 2022, Halifax had a GDP of $21.5 billion representing growth of 3.3% over 2021. An annual average growth rate of 3.1% from 2023 onward will be required to reach the 2027 goal.

Despite the growth in GDP, with high inflation and rising interest rates, business confidence plummeted in 2022 to its lowest level since 2017. Consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level since measurement began in the late 1990s.

Growth in wages was not able to keep pace with inflation. Purchasing power for Halifax residents dropped 3.6% in 2022 following a 1.0% decline in 2021. Moreover, the highest rates of inflation since the early 1980s resulted in increasing affordability pressures. The poverty rate in Halifax held steady at 8.2% in 2021. This was only 0.1 percentage points lower than 2020, but is down 4.3 percentage points since 2019.

Looking at metrics for the environment, Halifax emitted 4.92 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MtCO2e) in 2022, 0.12% less than in 2021. An average annual decline of 13.0% is needed to reach the goal of 1.4 MtCO2e by 2030. However, a faster annual reduction would be required after 2030 to reach the 2050 goal of achieving net-zero emissions.

Grow Population

In 2022, Halifax took a significant step towards its goal of reaching a population of 525,000 by 2027. The city added 20,713 new residents in 2022, a growth rate of 4.5%, to reach a population of 480,582. An annual average growth rate of 1.8% is now needed to reach the 2027 goal.

The allure of Halifax attracted migrants from across Canada and around the world in 2022. More than 8,000 people from different Canadian provinces, principally Ontario, and more than 12,000 people from other countries became residents. These were both record-setting figures. As well, international student enrolment grew by 0.8% in 2022 to 7,347, the second-highest figure on record.

Immigrant-friendly policies and welcoming people ensure that newcomers will stay here after arrival. In 2022, 9,755 immigrants received their permanent residency. The most-used immigration stream in 2022 was the Provincial Nominee Program with 4,670 new admissions. Additionally, Halifax welcomed 1,240 refugees in 2022; more than 5,000 newcomers have been welcomed since 2015.

The influx of migrants to Halifax is helping to mitigate the anticipated demographic challenge. About 70% of all newcomers to Halifax were ages 20-44 in 2022. This played a role in dropping the median age of Halifax residents to 39 years, the lowest since 2008.

Grow Labour Force

Another goal in the Economic Strategy is to grow the labour force to 310,000 by 2027. Halifax saw its labour force grow by 2.0% in 2022 to 265,600. This means that an average annual growth rate of 3.2% is now required to reach the goal by 2027.

There was a one percentage point decrease in the [participation rate], from 68.5% in 2021 to 67.5% in 2022. However, the participation rate for those ages 25-44 remained high at 90.0%. Employment also saw growth of 4.8% in 2022, with 252,400 people employed. Evidence of continued tightening in the labour market came with a 2022 job vacancy rate of 5.2%, the highest on record.

The scorecard also includes performance metrics for sixth graders, the labour force of the future. In 2022, the share of Halifax students performing at or above expectation improved for reading (+1 pp) and mathematics (+2 pp) although they declined for writing (-2 pp). In total, 25%, 43%, and 31% of students were performing below expectations for reading, writing, and mathematics, respectively.

Improve Well-Being

Inclusive prosperity is top of mind for the 2022-27 Economic Strategy, and one of the metrics that we track is well-being. This is assessed through a question about life satisfaction in Halifax Partnership’s City Matters Survey.

The well-being measure focuses on those who perhaps are not fully enjoying the city’s broader progress and success. The precise metric included as a headline figure is the share of survey respondents who rated their life satisfaction as “low” with a score of four or less on a scale of 0-10. The benchmark score obtained from the spring 2022 survey was 14.4%. In 2023, this share declined (improved) to 12.8%. Furthermore, 66.8% of the population had either a “high” (score of 7-8) or “very high” (score of 9-10) life-satisfaction rating. The mean well-being score also increased from 6.7 in 2022 to 7.6 in 2023.

Home prices and rents significantly impact quality of life. Halifax was not immune to surging home prices across Canada in 2022. According to RBC’s Housing Affordability Measures, in 2022 45.1% of income was needed to cover home-ownership costs in Halifax, up from 33.0% in 2021. The share of income spent on rent increased to 31.3% in 2022 from 29.6% in 2021.

Tourism is a key economic driver for Halifax, and tourism statistics provide a means of assessing the city’s desirability from a non-resident perspective. Overnight visitor stays in Halifax jumped sharply in 2022 to reach a record high of 1.92 million. This is an increase of 68.1% over 2021 and 2.3% over 2019 levels.

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