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Young people, jobs are coming back to Halifax in record numbers

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WATCH: Economic forecasters are predicting strong population growth in Nova Scotia well into the new decade. Jesse Thomas reports.

Since 2015 Halifax’s population has continued to grow as the city has welcomed more than 20,000 new people and counting.

2018 saw a 2.0 per cent increase in the population, the largest increase in recent years, after receiving 8,544 newcomers with 65 per cent of those being international immigrants.

It’s an exciting time for Halifax Index chief economist Ian Munro, who says the consistent population growth has helped foster an all-time high in business confidence.

READ MORE: Halifax experiences ‘spectacular’ boom in international newcomers: agency

“We’re seeing strong population growth, strong immigration growth, and we’re seeing lots of young people coming back to the province, as our labour force is expanding,” said Munro following his presentation of the 2019 Halifax Index.

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The annual presentation of the Halifax Index is like a report card, showing how the city is doing in terms of economy, growth, and quality of life.

It was positive.

Halifax is acting more like a magnet and attracting even more young people, instead of seeing them depart west, like in years past.  Notable gains were seen in the 20-29 age range, as the city welcomed 2,503 people from that demographic, almost one-third of Halifax’s population growth in 2018.

“Young people are increasingly looking at Halifax and Nova Scotia as a place where they can establish a career and raise a family,” said Stephen Moore, vice president with MQO Research. “One of the things that we measure is, do people feel like Halifax is a good place to raise a family? And overwhelmingly they do.”

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Quality of life, affordability, employment opportunities all play into the positive forecast and help grow the economy here,  Munro says.

“They (the youth) see the opportunity here now, unlike maybe 30 years ago, when a young person felt he or she had to leave to go to Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver,” said Munro.

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“Now they see the opportunity is here. We are importing young people now, not exporting them.”

You can look at the growth in the labour force, which shows participation numbers are up for the first time since 2009 and after three consecutive years of growth below 1 percent.

The labour force saw a jump in the number of people working as that number improved to 3.3 percent — that’s 8,000 workers who gained employment last year.

That alone is a sign of a healthy and thriving economy, Munro says.

“Business confidence goes up, investment goes up, hiring goes up and it all feeds on itself in a very positive way.”

The population of Halifax has now grown to 430,512 people.

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Fredericton looks to boost its population by 25-thousand