How is Saint John’s economy?

From PlanSJ documentation: The City of Saint John is the economic centre of the region and of southwestern New Brunswick. The City is home to the majority of the region’s employers, which are scattered across the City’s territory. Saint John is the regional centre for services related to health and education; a major centre for telecommunications and manufacturing; a popular destination for tourists and conventions; a transportation hub for road, rail and port facilities used to distribute goods; and the cultural hub of the region.

The average annual rate of employment growth in the Saint John Region between 1996 and 2006 stood at 1.7%. The only periods of decline occurred in 2001 (closing of the Lantic Sugar Refinery) and in 2003 (closing of the Saint John Drydock). The average annual rate of employment growth in Saint John has been comparable to Fredericton, but somewhat lower than Moncton. All three cities exhibited higher rates of employment growth than the provincial average.

In spite of the occasional period of employment decline, the labour force of the Saint John CMA is 6.8% larger today (in absolute numbers) than it was in 2003 and is larger than anytime previously in the past eight years.

Over the years, the region has developed a robust service industry, which represents the bulk of employment for residents (77.5%). In contrast, employment in the primory (4%) and secondary (19%) industries has trended downwards since the mid 1990s.

True to its industrial image, Saint John exhibits higher proportions of its labour force in occupations related to the trades and manufacturing than Fredericton and Moncton. However, the majority of Saint Johners are employed in service industry occupations.

Education and employment characteristics are important indicators in determining the well-being and mobility of residents. One of the key factors influencing employment levels is educational attainment.

Many of the opportunities in the emerging economies will require highly skilled employees with specialized education or training beyond high school in order to grow and succeed. 47.6% of Saint John residents have achieved some form of post-secondary education (compared to 53.4% in Canada). Saint John’s strength lies in completion rates for trade certificates and college programs, which stand at 32.3%. However, university completion rates (15.3%) are below provincial and national averages.

Unemployment rates in the Saint John Region have historically been lower than the provincial average, but significantly higher than the national average (in the late-1980s the region’s unemployment rate stood at more than 13%). However, in 2006 the unemployment rate dropped to a low of 4.6%, significantly lower than the provincial rate of 10.3% and lower than the Canadian average of 6.8%. In 2009, the regional unemployment rate had risen to 6.6%, still well below proVincial and national averages.

The majority of the region’s jobs are located in Saint John, which has positioned the City as the regional employment centre. Employment lands are spread out across the City:

  • the Uptown (or the Central Business District)
  • Saint John Regional Hospital & UNB Saint John
  • Commercial areas such as Fairville Boulevard, Rothesay Avenue, Thorne Avenue and the commercial hub around McAllister Place
  • Industrial/manufacturing areas such as Grandview, McAllister and Spruce Lake Industrial Parks and the Port Lands.

Six existing and emerging economic sectors that have the potential to contribute to a stronger and more diversified economy:

  • Commercial/Retail (including positioning the Uptown as a centre for office/retail, finance, hospitality and culture)
  • Health Sciences (two hospitals, the new medical teaching hospital affiliated with Dalhousie University and the UNB nursing program)
  • Information and Communication Technologies (there are more than 50 ICT related firms in Saint John)
  • Tourism (cruise ship industry is continuing to grow)
  • Natural resources (fisheries, minerals and potash)
  • Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (including chemicals, plastics, tidal, metal processing and construction)
  • Emerging Opportunities (green industries)

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