Some thorns in rosy outlook: St. John's trade board

The St. John's Board of Trade says the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is performing strongly, but is concerned about several problems.

The St. John's Board of Trade says the Newfoundland and Labrador economy is performing strongly, but is concerned about several problems.

The board's mid-year economic review credits natural resources with helping drive economic growth. Forecasts have pegged provincial economic growth for 2006 at more than six per cent.

The St. John's area will account for about half the province's economic output.

But board president Ray Dillon said the exodus of young adults for jobs on the mainland is taking a toll, with employers finding it difficult to find workers.

Migration has been especially pointed in rural areas, where economic indicators have been comparatively gloomy.

"If people who are of child-bearing years in rural Newfoundland are moving out, your opportunity to repopulate your province or grow your population is diminished," Dillon said.

Going west for bigger dreams

Frank Kelly, president of the Eastern Home Builders Association, said city contractors have been accustomed to picking up new workers from rural communities.

"But what we've seen lately is that everybody is heading west or to Ontario for bigger money, bigger dreams. We can't keep up with that and we're losing out skilled trades," Kelly said.

Dillon said while important factors such as retail sales and tourist trafficare continuing to be strong, the worker shortage will worsen ifthe exodus of young adultsis not arrested.

Statistics Canada reported that Newfoundland and Labrador lost more than 2,900 residents in 2005 alone. Census data collected this spring is expected to detail how the province's demographic map is shifting.