[ATLANTIC REGION] — After a period of steady growth during the 1980s and 1990s, the number of self-employed individuals in Atlantic Canada has stagnated, according to the latest report card by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).
"Self-employment in Atlantic Canada has failed to show any sustained expansion since 1998, despite gains nationally," said APEC senior economist David Chaundy.
The report highlighted declines in self-employment from consolidation in the primary and retail industries over the last decade, which offset self-employment gains in professional services, construction and real estate.
"With further rationalization likely in primary industries, and housing markets slowing, renewed growth in Atlantic self-employment will be challenging to attain," said Chaundy.
The report card noted that in 2011 there were 134,000 self-employed workers in Atlantic Canada which is about 10,000 below the 1998 peak. By contrast, self-employment in Canada has continued to grow, up by 11 per cent since 1998. Self-employment accounted for 12.2 per cent of total employment in Atlantic Canada in 2011, with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador posting the three lowest rates of self-employment in Canada. Prince Edward Island was also below the 15.6 per cent national average in 2011.
Provincial Trends in Self-Employment
• Nova Scotia has the largest number of self-employed individuals in the Atlantic region and experienced the strongest growth in self-employment in the region during the 1980s and 1990s, reaching its highest level of 61,400 in 2011.
• New Brunswick has seen no self-employment increase during the last decade, with the 40,900 recorded in 2011 slightly below the historic peak of 45,700 recorded in 1997.
• Newfoundland and Labrador self-employment has fallen by 17 per cent since 2000, the biggest drop in Canada, largely due to a decline in the number of self-employed fishermen.
• Prince Edward Island self-employment fell to 14.6 per cent in 2011 from 22.1 per cent in 1981 due to the declining number of farmers and an increase in paid employees in other sectors.