Report reveals stalled self-employment dominating Atlantic Canada

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By Staff, The Daily Business Buzz

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.

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[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.

Organizations: APEC

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island

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