The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Yukoners will continue to live high on the hog through the coming decade, as mines bring in more jobs and wealth.
Despite this, the Yukon is expected to remain largely beholden to government jobs and cash transfers from Ottawa in the foreseeable future.
The board’s report helps put some recent territorial statistics in a broader context. Take unemployment.
We’re in the midst of a particularly tight labour pinch. There were 700 unemployed Yukoners seeking work last month, according to the territory’s statistics branch. That’s just 3.6 per cent of the workforce.
Meanwhile, the territory will see another 550 jobs created this year as big construction projects continue and Yukon’s three hardrock mines hit full steam.
Yet a focus on January’s unemployment rate misses the volatility in Yukon’s labour market over the past year, which started with unemployment hitting double-digits before dropping to below five per cent late in the year.
The board expects unemployment to settle between six to 6.5 per cent soon.
The recent construction of two new mines, along with a glut of government-sponsored infrastructure spending, caused Yukon’s economy to surge ahead of much of Canada.
Canada’s economy grew by just 1.2 per cent from 2008 to 2010. Yukon’s grew by 11.1 per cent during that time.
The board anticipates that, from 2010 to 2020, mining will generate more than 10 per cent of all economic activity. That should help the territory raise more money itself. But it will remain heavily indebted to Ottawa.
Government services accounted for 34.5 per cent of the Yukon’s gross domestic product in 2010. By 2010, the board expects this share to only fall slightly, to 33.2 per cent.
“Yukon’s rich mineral endowment is expected to generate increasing amounts of wealth for the territory,” the report states. “But government will remain the principal economic actor and source of income over the next decade.”