Economic insights – year in review, 2023

With last year's population growth, modest growth in the economy (excluding oil and gas extraction), and our consistent ranking as one of the top performing urban centres for business activity in Canada, the economic outlook for the City of St. John's is expected to return to growth in 2024. Spinoff effects from increased oil production are anticipated to increase economic activity in many service sector industries in 2024.  

Population growth

The population of the St. John’s Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) was estimated at 223,667 persons in 2023, up 2.1% from 2022, driven by record-high immigration levels.

Consumer Price Index

Inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index, averaged 3.7% in the St. John’s CMA in 2023, down from a 32-year high of 5.9% in 2022.

Labour market

Employment remained steady in the St. John’s CMA at 116,300 persons in 2023. The unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage points to a seven-year low of 6.0%, as the labour market continued to tighten throughout the year.

Residential real estate and household income activity

Housing starts in St. John’s metro decreased by 33.4% to 488 units, as higher interest rates and elevated construction costs lowered the demand for new residential investment. 

Sales of single detached homes in St. John’s decreased 9.5% to 802 units, while sales of multi-family units totaled 406 units, down 16.3% from 2022. The MLS® HPI composite benchmark price for homes in St. John’s averaged $327,942 in 2023, up 3.1% compared with 2022. In comparison, the national average price of a home in Canada was $657,145 in December 2023.


St. John's CMA household income increased 5.0% to $12.3 billion in 2023, driven by

gains in wages and increased government transfers, making the St. John's area still one of the most affordable Canadian cities in which to purchase a home.


The St. John’s apartment vacancy rate dropped to 1.5% from 2.9% in 2022, and the

average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment increased 7.4% to $1,198 in 2023, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Commercial and industrial real estate activity

In fourth quarter 2023, the overall office vacancy rate in St. John's metro increased to 21.3%, up from 19.1% in 2022, according to Cushman & Wakefield Atlantic.

The overall industrial vacancy rate in St. John’s metro increased to 11.4% in fourth quarter 2023, up from 10.1% in 2022.

The City of St. John's prepares a variety of economic and statistical information including an Economic Review, Economic Outlook and the monthly Economic Snapshot. Sign up to receive these publications and read other economic data at

City Initiatives

Nominations open for City of St. John's Applause Awards

Do you know someone who makes a difference in our city? Nominations are officially open for the St. John’s Applause Awards. The civic awards program recognizes inspiring and impactful individuals, groups and organizations whose contributions and achievements help make our city a great place to live, learn, work, play and visit.

Nominations are open for over a dozen awards in eight major award categories. To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination forms for each award category at by February 28, 2024. 

News Briefing

RFP: consulting services for the development of a health tech | bio tech Strategy

techNL (through Bounce Health Innovation), in collaboration with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), is seeking a consultant to undertake the development of a health tech and bio tech Sector strategy for the province. The qualifying consulting firm will develop a sector strategy that can clearly and accurately describe the current state of NL’s health tech and bio tech subsectors as well identify recommendations to accelerate the growth of the sector. Closing date for the RFP is February 16, 2024. For more information visit:

Atlantic Canada startup survey

Entrevestor, Atlantic Canada’s startup news site, needs your help in compiling data on the East Coast startup community. They’re calling on all startups to complete their quick-and-confidential 2023 Atlantic Canadian startup survey. This data will be aggregated to produce metrics for the tenth Entrevestor Atlantic Canada Startup Data report; a report that provides a benchmark for governments and support organizations for the entire innovation sector in the region.

At a Glance

Did you know that St. John’s is home to one of the largest geotechnical centrifuges in the world? C-CORE's geotechnical expertise are used for both onshore and offshore projects.

Looking for a #GreenJob? econext has launched a Green Job Bank:

Understanding the need for better training has led Virtual Marine to develop state-of-the-art simulators for the offshore oil and gas industry. Learn about how they came to offer this life-saving service: #NLOceanLeaders

Explore the intricacies of economic vitality with the Real-time Local Business Conditions Index! St. John's is positioned strongly at 543.72, but where does it stand in the national spotlight? Dive into the data and discover: #BusinessIndex #EconomicInsights

Upcoming Courses and Events

Book your spot!

Feb 14 Oceans Advance Green Transition Fund Info Session

Feb 15 Globe and Mail Free webinar De-risking Your Family Business: Tactics for diversification

Feb 16 Black Owned Vendor Market

Feb 20-22 Hospitality NL Conference

Feb 21 BDC webinar Top 5 ways to boost profits in a slower economy

Feb 27 St. John’s Board of Trade Annual General Meeting

Feb 28-29 Gardiner Centre Technical IT Security for Proactive Defence

Feb 29 econext Training Course: ESG Strategies and Tactics for SMEs

Mar 4 Nlowe International Women's Day Event featuring Emily O'Brien

Mar 4-5 Introduction to Wind and Hydrogen Course

Mar 5 Women in Resource Development & techNL Microaggressions in the Workplace

Questions About Starting a Business

Our knowledgeable staff are here to help

Opening a new business is a busy and exciting time, and requires careful planning. Here at the City of St. John's Business Information Centre, we know our way around town and we'd be happy to connect you to the programs, resources and contacts you need to help make it happen. Get in touch. We're here to help.

Starting a business in St. John's

The City of St. John's Business Startup Guide can help simplify the process of starting your new business. Visit our publications page to download your free copy.

Latest Economic Indicators

City building permits

as of February 6, 2024

Commercial permits

Down 66% from $2,860,868 in 2023 to $978,879 in 2024

Industrial permits

Valued at $0 for 2023 and $0 for 2024

Government/institutional permits

Up from $0 in 2023 to $3,900 in 2024*

Residential permits

Up 8% to $3,062,849 for 2024 over $2,846,985 for 2023

Repair permits

Up 119% from $40,815 in 2023 to $89,500 in 2024

Total value of all permits for 2024

Down -28% to $4,135,128 for 2024 over $5,748,668 for 2023

*This data does not include the full range of permit activity undertaken by the provincial government and Memorial University.

Business approvals

Capitol Hair Studio, 35 White Rose Drive

Zauq Kitchen, 11 Freshwater Road

MM Home, 116 Duckworth Street

Lindt store, 48 Kenmount Road

Little Stars Daycare Inc., 400 Topsail Road

Optometry Clinic, 46C Aberdeen Avenue

The Art Factory, 71 O’Leary Avenue

Daycare, 44 Austin Street

Home-based businesses

Spa services, 97A Logy Bay Road

Office for Wheeler Electrical Services, 173 Craigmillar Avenue

Home office, 93C Newtown Road

Total business approvals for 2024 = 11 (regular = 8 and home-based = 3)

Photo: Wichan Yingyongsomsawas

Labour force characteristics as of January 2024

Labour force – 124,900 (up 3.4%)

Unemployment rate – 6.1% (0.0 ppts)

Employment – 117,200 (up 1.0%)

Participation rate – 64.7% (down -1.5 ppts)

St. John's CMA, seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average. Percentage change reflects the same month previous year. Source: Statistics Canada.

Economic indicators

The New Housing Price Index for St. John’s Metro was 105.8 in December 2023 (up 0.2%*)

The Consumer Price Index for St. John’s Metro was 159.0 in December 2023 (up 3.8%*) 

Retail trade for Newfoundland and Labrador was $945 million in November 2023 (up 0.4%*)

*St. John's CMA, same month in the previous year. Source: Statistics Canada

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