Atlantic Canadian economies off to slow start in 2014, think-tank says

HALIFAX – An economic think-tank says the provincial economies in Atlantic Canada were off to a slow start in 2014.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council says weak labour markets were largely to blame, driving down consumer spending.

The independent group also says limited population growth led to a sharp decline in housing starts across the region in the first quarter.

Senior analyst Fred Bergman says even though the unemployment rate declined across the region, this was due to workers withdrawing from the labour force.

As well, he says weekly earnings were barely keeping pace with inflation while retail sales remained flat.

However, the think-tank did offer some good news, saying exports to the United States were strong in the first quarter, and that all four provinces were making progress in eliminating their budget deficits.