GDP: Yukon and Nunavut are up, the NWT is down

On Friday, Statistics Canada released preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) estimates for the provinces and territories. GDP increased significantly in Yukon and Nunavut, while it fell in the NWT.
The territories are not diversified economies, and territorial GDP is tightly linked to the expansion or contraction of mining and exploration industries. When these industries grow, so does the rest of the economy. This includes related construction and service sectors. In Nunavut, for example, the opening of the Kivalliq’s Meadowbank mine helped increase that territory’s GDP by 11.3% in 2010.
Last year, both Yukon and Nunavut saw increased activity in their mining and exploration sectors. In Yukon, where GDP increased by 5.6%, this growth was driven by record level gold and silver exploration, and the opening of the Bellekeno silver mine. Related industries also grew:

Construction output rose 21% as work on a new metal mine continued, which also led to increases in wholesale trade and transportation services. Retail trade grew 6.6% and the finance, insurance and real estate sector advanced 4.7%.

Nunavut’s GDP increased by 7.7% as

[o]utput of gold and silver ore mining increased for the second consecutive year. The high price of gold spurred exploration activity and construction as work on a new mine got underway.

But why did GDP drop in the Northwest Territories?
Statistics Canada reports that mining and oil/gas extraction declined by 13% in the territory. This decline was led by a “significant drop” in diamond mining. Despite this decline, “[s]upport activities for mining and oil and gas extraction posted a 21% gain, supported by higher exploration activity.”
Overall, national GDP rose by 2.6% in 2011. This table shows real GDP by province and territory:

These numbers are preliminary and will be updated again in Fall 2012. They should also be read with caution. As Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox wrote here on Friday, the benefits of increased GDP are not evenly distributed across territorial society. As Nunatsiaq News reported in late April, Agnico-Eagle saw “a stunning 80 per cent turnover rate in Inuit labour at the Meadowbank mine.” Of the 276 Inuit hired to work at the mine outside Baker Lake in 2011, 229 left.

Image credit: Statistics Canada

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