Yukon’s economy is diverse and heavily supported by three main pillars: public administration, resource extraction, and tourism. Yukon has a modern economy grown from its traditional roots. Modern technology has increased productivity and efficiency without eroding traditional values.
Yukon’s economy has expanded significantly over the last 10 years, experiencing consecutive years of growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since 2003. It is estimated that Yukon’s real GDP grew 1.0 per cent to over $2.3 billion in 2013. While growth in 2013 is not as robust as seen in recent years, the current period of economic expansion for Yukon is impressive! Yukon’s economy has historically been cyclical with close ties to the performance of the mining industry. However, Yukon’s economy has shown signs of diversification in recent years and found stability in its tourism and culture industries.
Yukon’s growing economy has been reflected in the strong performance of labour market indicators. Recent years have seen Yukon’s labour force and employment reach record highs with an annual unemployment rate that generally remained low. The labour force in Yukon represents one of the most enviable workforces in Canada as it is both active and growing with a high level of engagement and employee satisfaction. Yukon’s labour demographic is relatively young and split evenly along gender lines. The Yukon labour force is supplemented by the Yukon Nominee Program. This program was developed to allow the Yukon government to nominate potential immigrants based on industrial and economic priorities, labour market conditions, and those who are assessed to have a strong likelihood of successfully establishing themselves in Yukon.
Yukon is also in a period of population growth. The current population forecast of 36,700 for 2013 would represent the tenth consecutive year of growth for Yukon, and the highest average annual population ever recorded. While population growth has been recorded in a number of communities, the majority of the recent population gains have been noted in Whitehorse with the capital city now accounting for over 76 per cent of the territory’s total population. As a goods and services hub for other Yukon communities, and also the local mining industry, further population gains are expected to be concentrated in Whitehorse.
Although few people continue to make a living from hunting or trapping, small enterprise ventures continue to exist in many forms and provide a solid supplement to the economy. Yukon’s economy includes close to 3,000 registered businesses, which translates into roughly one business per 10 Yukoners. The highly entrepreneurial economy is filled with independent business owners and often larger industries that have numerous smaller active operators (e.g. specialized construction companies, independent exploration companies, placer mines). These self-operated businesses complement the financial efforts of larger companies and government.
Much of Yukon would be considered ‘isolated’ if it weren’t for its connected infrastructure. Yukon boasts an extensive network of all-season roads and a robust airport system. Yukon has a sole cable-delivered broadband network that provides high-speed internet to Yukon communities, mobile access and a telecommunications delivery system that ensures online access to the majority of Yukoners. Consequently, Yukon businesses are able to effectively connect with partners around the globe.
Yukon's Economy 2013
Forecast for 2014
- Preliminary estimates indicate the Yukon’s Real GDP grew 1.3 per cent to almost $2.3 billion, the tenth consecutive annual increase.
- Weakness in mineral prices and a general slowdown in the global mining industry contributed to less activity in Yukon’s mining sector with exploration, production and development activities all negatively impacted in 2013.
- Yukon’s average population is estimated to have increased by 1.6 per cent to 36,604. Increasing population in 2013 marked the tenth consecutive year of growth.
- The labour market performed well in 2013:
- Total employment averaged 19,300, up 400 from 18,900 in 2012.
- The labour force averaged 20,400, matching the record level reported for 2012.
- The unemployment rate averaged 5.4 per cent, down from 6.9 per cent in 2012.
- Retail sales fell to $652 million, down from about $670 million in 2012 and the first annual decline since 2009.
- Border crossings are estimated to have grown by 7.6 per cent, to a record 345,510.
- At $78.9 million, the value of building permits in 2013 was down from $100.4 million in 2012. All of the declines were associated with residential permits as the value of non-residential permits increased by $10 million.
- The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimated Whitehorse housing starts in 2013 at 162 units, down significantly from 282 starts in 2012.
- Change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Whitehorse measured 1.7 per cent in 2013.
- Modest GDP growth of 1.7 per cent is forecast for 2014.
- Growth is forecasted for a number of industries in 2014 with activity related to construction a major component of this growth.
- Mineral production expected to be down in 2014, with the ongoing shutdown of the Bellekeno mine a primary contributing factor to lower production.
- Population is expected to grow 1.4 per cent in 2014, exceeding 37,000.
- Gains are expected in both employment and labour force, but stronger employment growth should contribute to a decrease in the unemployment rate to 5.0 per cent.
- A return to growth for retail sales is expected with sales increasing to over $670 million, up from $652 million in 2013.
- Higher consumer prices to contribute to growth in 2014.
- Border crossings are expected to grow to 350,000, representing the third straight year of growth.
- Building permits value is expected to post modest growth and total about $90 million.
- The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation is estimating an increase in Whitehorse housing starts to 168 units.
- Following recent stronger growth nationally, the CPI for Whitehorse is expected to grow by 2.6 per cent, the highest growth rate since 2011.
Preliminary Forecast for 2015
- The preliminary forecast for GDP growth is 4.5 per cent.
- Increasing mineral production, primarily from the expectation of a resumption of production in the Keno Hill District along with the expectation of development activity related to the Eagle Gold mine are key drivers of the growth forecast for 2015.
- Population is expected to post further growth in 2015, with growth of 1.4 per cent to 37,600.
- Yukon’s labour market is expected to continue to perform well into 2015 with gains in both employment and the labour force, but stronger growth in the labour force will see a slight increase in Yukon’s unemployment rate.
- Retail sales are expected to grow to over $700 million for the first time.
- Border crossings are expected to post modest growth in 2015.
- Building permits value is expected to grow again in 2015, totaling over $100 million.
- CPI increase for Whitehorse to be similar to 2014 at 2.6 per cent.