Labour, housing markets see weak 2016 in St. John's

The strong growth streak of income in the St. John's area has come to a crawl.

Take-home pay for residents living in and around St. John's grew by the smallest amount in 2016 of any year since 1997, according to an economic review released by the city on Thursday.

The growth of total household income, 1.1 per cent, was eclipsed by the CPI inflation rate of 2.6 per cent, meaning paycheques did not keep up with the cost of living.

"Economic performance in the St. John's CMA [census metropolitan area] was mixed in 2016," the city wrote in its review.

"The slow growth in household income was reflected in retail sales, which increased by only 0.9 per cent to $3.9 billion."

Employment woes

Alongside weak wage growth, unemployment also rose by 1.3 percentage points in 2016 — to 7.8% from 6.5%.

While 1,200 people were hired into the service sector, employment in the goods sector declined by 700. 

According to the report, only five metropolitan census areas had a higher unemployment rate than St. John's.

There were some positive signs.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 3.1 per cent, thanks in large part to offshore oil production. 

"The outlook for 2017 continues to be subdued," said Mayor Dennis O'Keefe. "As some major projects edge into completion, there is expected to be a decline in capital investment."