Manitoba's Economy Continues Slow and Steady Growth

How Canada Performs rankings show province avoided worst of the recession, but areas of weakness remain

OTTAWA, May 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Manitoba's diversified economy served it well during the global recession, when it was one of the steadiest performers in the developed world. Manitoba's economic challenge now is to attract more investment and boost labour productivity, according to The Conference Board of Canada's first "How Canada Performs: Economy" report card to compare the 10 provinces and 16 advanced countries.

Released today, and building on previous "How Canada Performs" analyses, the Economy report card is the first of six to be produced over the next year on Canadian and provincial socio-economic performance.

"Manitoba is doing many things right. It has a diversified economy, it is attracting people and it has a young population," said Glen Hodgson, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist. "To build on these strengths, Manitoba has to continue to improve its labour productivity."


     Manitoba compared favourably to other jurisdictions in 2013 on unemployment rates, GDP growth and employment growth.
     Manitoba's economic challenge now is to attract more investment and boost labour productivity.

Manitoba gets a "C" grade overall, and ranks 17th among the 26 jurisdictions (10 provinces and 16 countries, including Canada).

Manitoba and other Prairie provinces have low unemployment rates that are close to those of the top-performing countries, such as Norway. While much of the attention focuses on Alberta and Saskatchewan, Manitoba also has an enviable unemployment rate, earning an "A" grade in that category. Manitoba scores an "A" on GDP growth as well, and a "B" on employment growth.

Manitoba also does well on labour productivity growth, with one of the highest growth rates between 2008 and 2012 among advanced economies. The province gets a "B" grade—one of only two provinces receiving the same rank—and is third behind Ireland and the United States.

On the downside, levels of labour productivity remain low. Only the Maritime provinces and one peer country, Japan, had a lower level of labour productivity than Manitoba in 2012. Low productivity levels explain the province's poor performance on income per capita. Manitoba received a "D" grade on income per capita, although its 17th place finish in 2013 reveals a steady improvement from 23rd place in 2004.

One way to improve the province's labour productivity performance is to more fully engage in global markets for greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI)—that is, investment that expands an existing business or creates a new business (as opposed to a merger or acquisition).

With trade liberalization and the rise of global supply chains, FDI has become a key driver of global economic growth. Countries and provinces compete to attract FDI because FDI can help boost productivity. Compared to British Columbia and Alberta, Manitoba is not performing well on either inward or outward greenfield FDI.

The Conference Board will host Prairies Business Outlook Webinar, focusing on Manitoba and Saskatchewan, on June 25, at 10 a.m. Central time.

How Canada Performs is an ongoing research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada's socio-economic performance. The How Canada Performs website presents data and analysis on Canada's performance compared to peer countries in six performance categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health, and Society.

This is the first year that provincial and territorial rankings are included in the analysis.

The Education and Skills report card will be released in June.

SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada

For further information:

Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221


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