Manitoba shifts into economic sweet spot

CALGARY — The Canada West Foundation has released its latest economic profile and forecast for Manitoba, and the future looks bright.

The report, entitled Well-Balanced, argues that Manitoba is in a good position to weather the current economic storm and grow faster than the Canadian average.

The foundation is forecasting Manitoba’s real GDP growth will be 2.3 percent for 2008 and 2 percent for 2009.

While the projections are lower than the province’s GDP growth of 4 percent in 2006 and 3.3 percent in 2007, the province still experiences positive results. So far in 2008 employment is up by 1.8 percent (10,800 full-time jobs), retail sales are up 8.7 percent and inflation is below the national average at 2.2 percent.

"It is striking how Manitoba is currently sitting in an economic sweet spot where prosperity comes from different sources, none of which dominates enough to upset the economic apple cart too much," notes Canada West Foundation senior economist Jacques Marcil.

Key findings in the report show non-residential construction activity remains high in Manitoba, with large projects in hydro generation, public works and mining.

As well, transportation equipment manufacturing is in high gear with solid orders in the aerospace and bus manufacturing industries. Crop production is also doing well in the province with canola volumes expected to set a new record.

The province’s population is growing faster thanks to reversed migratory patterns with Alberta and Ontario, as well as increased international migration. While Manitoba’s job creation pace is at par with the national average, its unemployment rate is much lower, second only to Alberta.

"Manitoba’s steady-as-she-goes growth will be spread among different areas of the economy, giving the province a degree of balance that will be the envy of other jurisdictions," adds Marcil.

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