New Brunswick received a grade of D- for per capita income in a Conference Board of Canada report comparing the economies of Canadian provinces with 16 advanced countries. (CBC)

A report card comparing the economic performance of all 10 provinces with each other and 16 advanced countries puts New Brunswick at the bottom of the pack.

New Brunswick finishes last among the provinces and second last overall in the report by the Conference Board of Canada, which measures the economic performance of the provinces against countries for the first time.

New Brunswick was given an overall grade of D and was ranked ahead of only France in the list of 26 provincial and national economies that were examined. 

"New Brunswick is an economy or a province that is struggling and it has been for some time," said Brenda Lafleur of the Conference Board of Canada.

"It hasn't been doing well in this particular sphere, on economic performance."

Lafleur noted that New Brunswick's annual income per capita of $28,000 per person was lower that the worst performing country, which was France, with a per capita income of $29,000.

Nova Scotia also received a D grade, placing in 23rd position.

'There are few bright spots, but compared . . . to some of the other provinces, New Brunswick is going to continue to struggle.' - Brenda Lafleur, Conference Board of Canada

"The sluggish U.S. recovery has hurt export demand and both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also had very weak domestic economies in recent years," states the report.

"These two eastern provinces have been burdened by excess production capacity, as they have not benefited from the boom in commodity demand over the past decade like Alberta and Saskatchewan."

The top three positions were filled by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. All received A+ grades.

"These provinces are endowed with energy and other resources that have experienced strong global demand in recent years," states the report.

Ongoing operations

Brenda Lafleur said the development of the shale gas industry in New Brunswick will not automatically turn around the province's sluggish economy. (CBC)

"The benefits of resource exports, particularly energy, have led to rising incomes in these provinces and higher consumer spending."

While debate has raged in New Brunswick about shale gas development, Lafleur doesn't see that as a magic bullet for New Brunswick's economy.

"When you're talking about shale gas and things like that, it's not exactly the same as what Alberta has," she said. 

"It's probably not going to get the big, huge bang that Alberta is getting," she said. 

New Brunswick could see economic improvement through an improved United States economy, forest production and potash development, she said.

"There are few bright spots, but compared . . . to some of the other provinces, New Brunswick is going to continue to struggle."