Manitoba’s economic outlook continues to be weak, say economists

Manitoba Legislative Building. Shane Gibson/Global News

Initial fall numbers show a slow growth in Manitoba’s economy, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

There are a number of factors contributing to a weak outlook for the province, said Alicia Macdonald, a principal economist with the board.

“We take into account all the different pieces of information — how the employment market is fairing, how retail stales and manufacturing sales are doing in the province and we also have a large team that monitors economic conditions across the country.

“There are a number of factors we expect will hold back growth in Manitoba this year. One of the big ones is a number of large-scale construction projects are wrapping up in the province so lots of the spending for those have already occurred in previous years. We have also seen lack-luster job growth in the province and weak wage gains as well.”

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In August, the Conference Board of Canada predicted Manitoba’s economic GDP growth at .5 per cent for 2019 and .8 per cent in 2020.

“We’re already into October and we do know that the labour market has remained weak. Wages have remained weak and that’s translating to relatively soft volumes for retail spending. We think when we get the final numbers for 2019 in 2020 it will show manitoba’s economic growth was quite weak this year,” she said.

Other predictors like RBC’s outlook in June placed Manitoba’s GDP growth prediction for the year at 1.5 per cent.

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Manitoba’s Premier Brian Pallister remains optimistic about the outlook.

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“We’re very excited about getting our act together here in Manitoba on focused economic development. We have been achieving some really good results. Part of this has been on the eliminating of barriers of trade and encouraging better shopping but part of this is on attracting more capital,” he said.

Pallister said he plans on bringing 40,000 new jobs to the province by the end of his term.

Macdonald says the bleak outlook for Manitoba should turn around.

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