This chart, from the newly released 2014 Halifax Index, shows a sliver of the problem facing many mid-size cities in Canada — the exodus of young and working-age people. The Halifax Index, produced annually for Nova Scotia’s capital, benchmarks the city against five peer cities on a number of important measurements: population growth, education levels, the confidence of the business sector, and more.
The worrisome number that the report highlights is Halifax’s population growth, the slowest in its competitive set at just 0.4%. The problem, the report concludes, is that people are leaving the city for other parts of Canada faster than it can bring in international immigrants. From the report:
The biggest problem with respect to population growth for Halifax and Nova Scotia has been outmigration to other parts of the country. In 2013, 2,100 Halifax residents left the province for other Canadian communities. New entrants to the labour force, new graduates, and other young Nova Scotians, account for a disproportionate share of this exodus. In 2013, Halifax residents between the age of 20 and 39 accounted for 45.3% of interprovincial out migrants but accounted for only 21.2% of the Halifax population. The parents in this age group also take their young children with them, and children under the age of 15 accounted for a further 29.5% of interprovincial out migrants last year.
In other words, people in their prime working age are leaving, which creates a short-term problem; the longer-term problem is that they take their young families with them, potentially compounding the shortage for decades to come.