Atlantic Canada's labour force has not grown for two consecutive years, while the labour force in Canada, and most notably Alberta, continues to expand. There are two main factors behind these weak Atlantic labour force numbers - the region's current economic situation and a longer term demographic trend. Weak job growth in the Atlantic provinces during the last two years has discouraged potential job seekers while strong labour demand in Alberta has pulled people out of the Atlantic region to join Alberta's labour force. More importantly for future labour force growth, Atlantic Canada’s population growth has slowed to a crawl and this is limiting the number of people available for work.
The labour force consists of all those individuals who are currently working or who are unemployed but available and looking for work. Atlantic Canada’s labour force averaged about 1.2 million people in 2006.About 90% of Atlantic Canada’s labour force is currently employed. This Commentary explains the reasons behind the recent slowdown in Atlantic Canada's labour force growth, what the longer term demographic trend will mean for employers, and what can be done about it.