Economic Scan - New Brunswick: 2023
- New Brunswick’s population increased by 21,663 in 2022, thanks to immigration and record-setting interprovincial migration.
- The proportion of seniors aged 65+ is projected to increase from 23.0% in 2022 to 27.6% in 2032.
- In 2022, individuals aged 55 and over accounted for 56.5% of the working-age population. By 2032, that proportion could reach 59.3%.
- The proportion of youth (15-29) is projected to decline from 16.3% in 2022 to 16.0% in 2032.
Average age of the non-Indigenous population in the province is 44.5, versus 37.3 in the Indigenous population (Census 2021).
The Indigenous population comprises 4.4% of the total provincial population (2021 Census) and continues to be under-represented in the labour market, accounting for 4.0% of the provincial labour force.
Recent immigrants (those arriving between 2016 and 2021) accounted for over a third (36.4%) of New Brunswick's immigrant population in 2021. The pace of new arrivals has increased significantly in recent years, particularly as the province has relied on immigration to fill labour market gaps.
Over two-thirds (69.5%) of New Brunswick residents identified English as their first official language (Census 2021), while 30.3% identified the province's other official language, French. Only 0.2% identified a first language that was neither English nor French.
In 2017, 26.7% of the province’s population aged 15 and over were persons with disabilities. Many people with disabilities work in the service sector and these jobs are now more precarious due to significant layoffs in accommodation and food, and retail industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Labour Market Conditions
Employment grew at a healthy rate (2.8%)
Unemployment fell sharply (-21.2%)
Participation rate fell (61.5% to 60.6%)
Employment rate showed slight increase (55.9% to 56.2%)
province's Unemployment Rate
Show data table: Unemployment Rate
|Unemployment Rate (%)|
- Employment growth is expected to slow to 0.9% in 2023, before turning slightly negative (-0.1%) the following year. While the province’s population is expected to continue to grow at a healthy pace, factors like an economic slowdown, an aging population, and persistent labour shortages are expected to exert downward pressure on the number of jobs.
- The provincial unemployment rate fell sharply in 2022, to 7.2%, from 9.2% the previous year. This was largely due to more people finding work, while the labour force remained steady.
Province 's Economic Drivers in 2022
(mainly via international migration)
Show data table: GDP Growth Rate
|GDP growth rate (%)|
- Employment growth is expected to slow to 0.9% in 2023, before turning slightly negative (-0.1%) the following year. While the province’s population is expected to continue to grow at a healthy pace, factors like an economic slowdown, an aging population, and persistent labour shortages will restrict the number of new jobs.
- The provincial unemployment rate fell sharply between 2021 and 2022, from 9.2% to 7.2%, due to employment growth outpacing labour force gains. Many of the additional jobs were due to loosening COVID-19 restrictions, while the labour force was held back by an ageing population, which put downward pressure on the rate of participation.
Risks to the province Economy in 2023
- Continuation of inflationary pressures, particularly on necessities like shelter, food and fuel, could limit household discretionary spending, going forward.
- Rising interest rates could impact residential and non-residential investment activity by making borrowing more costly.
- Economic slowdown in the U.S. and key interprovincial trade partners like Quebec could result in weaker manufacturing outputs and exports. The wood products industry may be particularly vulnerable, should demand decline in the U.S. home construction industry.
Labour shortages and skills mismatches, which were already prevalent in the years leading up to the pandemic, have become even more pronounced afterwards. This has created a range of challenges to employers, including higher costs and reduced productivity. Immigration and access to temporary foreign workers have helped fill some of the gaps, while employers have gotten creative in how they attract and retain workers. For instance, some have offered bonuses, housing options and other unique incentives.
An ageing population is a longer-term structural challenge that’s impacting both New Brunswick’s labour market and fiscal health. With seniors accounting for a growing share of the population (22.7% in 2022), there are fewer people replacing retiring workers, leading to downward pressure on the labour force and hiring challenges for employers. At the same time, a growing number of seniors are exerting upward pressure on health care costs.
New Brunswick remains one of the most rural provinces in Canada, with over a third (35.8%) of the population living outside Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations in 2022. Moreover, youth are far more inclined to leave these rural areas to pursue education and employment opportunities. With fewer young people and more seniors, the composition of the rural labour force is shifting dramatically and this is exerting pressure on the pool of available labour in these areas.
Wages and Low-income populations
A tight labour market has led to significant upward pressure on wages, with New Brunswick among the nation’s growth leaders. However, inflation has eroded much of these gains, in terms of real spending power.
As of 2020, 7.6% of New Brunswickers were classified as low-income, down significantly from 16.2% five years prior. The low-income cut-off, according to the official Market Basket Measure ranged from $43,700 in the province’s rural areas to $47,000 in Fredericton.
Show data table
|Industry (NAICS)||Employment Change ('000s)|
|Professional, scientific and technical...||3.6|
|Wholesale and retail trade||1.0|
|Health care and social assistance||0.7|
|Information, culture and recreation||0.4|
|Other services (except public administration)||-0.3|
|Accommodation and food services||-0.6|
|Finance, insurance, real estate, rental...||-0.6|
|Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas||-0.9|
|Transportation and warehousing||-1.1|
|Business, building and other support...||-1.8|
- Employment gains were fairly widespread in 2022 and distributed across both the goods-producing (+4,300) and services-producing (+5,800) sectors.
- Construction led all industries, adding 5,800 jobs, thanks to strong residential building and renovation investment.
- Health care employment growth was relatively limited (+700), considering the growing demand for services. This partly due to a severe shortage of professionals available to work in this industry, as well as fiscal constraints.
- On the other hand, other public sector industries were among the province’s largest job contributors, with educational services adding 2,500 new positions in 2022 and public administration adding 2,200.
Regional Economic Conditions
- All five of the province’s economic regions (ER) registered employment increases in 2022.
- The greatest increase, in percentage terms, was observed in the Fredericton-Oromocto ER (+3.7%), which added 2,600 jobs thanks to an impressive gain in the number of full-time positions. Over half of all new jobs (1,400) were in construction, as the city continues to expand and develop.
- The Moncton-Richibucto ER trailed all other ERs, though still posted growth (+1.6%; +1,800 jobs). While several industries (particularly construction) performed well, overall growth was hampered by a significant decline in manufacturing employment (-2,400 jobs).
Show data table
|Employment Change by Economic Region in 2022 ('000s)|
|Saint John-St. Stephen||2.3|
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