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Manitoba ranked 17th out of 26

Economic report card gives province a C

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Manitoba's economy received a C grade and a ranking of 17th out of 26 in a new economic report card from the Conference Board of Canada.
Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Theresa Oswald, Manitoba Minister of Jobs and the Economy, signed an agreement in principle on the Canada Job Grant last month in Winnipeg.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Manitoba's economy received a C grade and a ranking of 17th out of 26 in a new economic report card from the Conference Board of Canada. Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Theresa Oswald, Manitoba Minister of Jobs and the Economy, signed an agreement in principle on the Canada Job Grant last month in Winnipeg.

Manitoba has been given a mediocre grade in a new economic report card to be released today by the Conference Board of Canada.

The How Canada Performs report card compares the 2013 economic performances of Canada, its 10 provinces and 15 other advanced countries, and assigns them each a grade and a ranking out of 26.

It gave Manitoba a C grade and a 17th-place ranking. By comparison, Canada scored a B grade and an eighth-place ranking, and the country's three resource-rich provinces -- Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador -- all received A+ grades and a top-three ranking.

Glen Hodgson, the board's senior vice-president and chief economist, notes Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador outperformed every other province or country in the study.

"Rising income in these provinces has led to higher consumer spending, which has boosted the services sector and real estate activity," he says.

The grades and rankings are based on how each province and country performed on eight key economic indicators: income per capita, GDP growth, employment growth, unemployment rate, inflation rate, labour productivity growth, and inward and outward greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI).

The outward greenfield FDI performance index measures investment abroad by domestic companies on expanding existing businesses or starting new ones. The inward performance index measures how much foreign companies invested here.

The good news is that Manitoba was awarded A's on three of the eight key indicators: GDP growth (2.2 per cent), unemployment rate (5.4 per cent) and inflation rate (2.2 per cent). And it received a B grade on two others: employment growth and labour productivity growth.

But those good grades were offset by D grades on three others: income per capita, inward greenfield FDI and outward greenfield FDI.

"Manitoba's economy is doing many things right. It is attracting people and has a young population," Hodgson said.

The board said the challenge is to attract more investment and boost labour productivity.

Brenda Lafleur, director of the board's How Canada Performs reports, said while Manitoba's grade was mediocre, "it's not terrible."

"You have to realize you're being compared to the cream of the crop. These are the top-performing countries of the world. It's kind of like getting a bronze at the Olympics."

Marie-Christine Bernard, associate director of the board's provincial forecast service, noted Manitoba's average labour productivity growth rate between 2008 and 2012 was the highest in Canada. Its GDP growth rate for 2013 was also above the national average, and its unemployment rate was the third-lowest in the country.

Where it's punching below its weight is in income per capita -- $33,650 compared to the national average of $37,459 -- and in domestic and foreign investment in business expansions and startups.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2014 B8

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