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Manitoba to see strong economic growth: think-tank

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Manitoba will post the fourth-strongest economic growth in the country this year, according to the latest forecast from the Conference Board of Canada.

The Ottawa-based think-tank predicts Manitoba will see real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 2.2 per cent this year — nearly a half a percentage point better than the projected national average of 1.8 per cent.

The only provinces expected to outperform Manitoba this year are Newfoundland and Labrador (6.1 per cent), Saskatchewan (3.9 per cent) and Alberta (3.1 per cent), the board adds.

It said although Manitoba is expected to see similar growth again in 2014 — 2.3 per cent — six other provinces will do even better, with growth ranging from 2.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent. The Canadian economy is also expected to churn out stronger growth, at 2.5 per cent, it adds.

The board’s spring forecast is largely unchanged from its previous forecast released in February. At that time it was predicting growth of 2.1 per cent for this year and 2.3 per cent for 2014. That’s down from an estimated 2.6 per cent growth in 2012, although a board economist said last November that anything above two per cent in the current environment is a pretty good performance.

The board says it expects this year’s growth in Manitoba to be broadly based, with a variety of sectors chipping in. But government cutbacks will also act as a drag on grow, it adds.

"Strength in metal mining and construction will help lift employment and keep provincial retailers busy. However, overall economic growth will be weighed down by restrained public spending, as both the federal and the provincial governments are operating in belt-tightening mode, trying to balance their books."

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