Atlantic Canada’s labour force decreasing despite immigration

posted on January 21, 2019

By Journal Pioneer

While P.E.I. appears to be doing well, Atlantic Canada’s labour force is shrinking.

According to APEC’s latest report card, the region’s labour force has declined by 30,600 between 2012 and 2018 primarily due to retiring baby boomers. During the same period, P.E.I.’s labour force was able to grow by two per cent.

Overall, the region’s unemployment rate has declined to the lowest point since the late 1960s.

With job vacancy rates having increased over the past two years, employers are struggling to fill these vacancies and rising immigration is only providing partial relief.

While immigrants added about 19,000 to the region’s labour pool over the last six years, this was not enough to eliminate a drop in labour force since 2012.

Immigrant retention rates are significantly lower in the Atlantic provinces.

Underrepresented groups are often targeted as a response to the declining labour force.

For example, the Indigenous population in Atlantic Canada is young and growing rapidly. The number of Indigenous people in the labour force grew by nearly 18,000 (40 per cent) between 2011 and 2016. Workers are also staying in the labour force longer, with the number of workers 65 years and older increasing by 14,000 over the last six years.

The report also said the skills required for jobs in the Atlantic economy will also shift in the next decade. Co-ordination between employers and training organizations will be needed to make sure new and current workers are trained and re-trained for those jobs.

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