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Data Dive: Summer 2024

Updated: Jun 20

Take a deep dive into Newfoundland and Labrador's demographic data! In this Data Dive, RAnLab delivers practical insights from a recent data release, shedding light on sub-provincial population change, migration patterns, and much more.


Let's dive into sub-provincial data that was released on May 22, 2024 by Statistics Canada. This Data Dive focuses on providing insights about the last year (July 2022 to July 2023).


 

KEY POINTS

  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s population in rural areas declined slightly while urban areas increased. 


  • The island portion of the province had a net decline in natural change (more deaths than births) while the Labrador portion of the province had a net positive natural change (more births than deaths). 

 

  • Intraprovincial migration shows a net outflow of people (900+) from rural areas to urban areas within the province. The 45-64 age group was the exception with net migration from urban to rural areas. 

 

  • Opposite the trend of intraprovincial migration, rural areas gained population through interprovincial migration while urban areas lost. Net positive migration for both geographies was dominated by people aged 45+.

 

  • There was a net increase in international migration in both rural and urban areas of the province. 

 

  • Over the past 20 years, larger natural population deficits combined with stronger youth outmigration and older population in-migration have led to Newfoundland and Labrador’s rural areas aging at a faster rate than its urban areas. 

 

  • Many local areas in the province now have median ages of 55 years and over, implying a greater than ever urgency to address associated challenges in many areas of public policy including labour market planning, health care, and housing amongst others.   


 

How it Works: Sub-Provincial Geography

How it Works: Population Change


NL had the highest population growth in 50 years

  Total Population Change  


Sub-provincial summary

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador recorded strong population growth of 1.3% in the last year (2022-2023). On a sub-provincial level, however, local experiences were mixed.  

 

The demographic situation last year varied for different sub-provincial geographies, which resulted in uneven growth. However, there were some general trends.  



The growth rate of an area is determined by both natural change and migration. Natural decline (meaning more deaths than births) was present in both aggregate urban and rural areas, though the magnitude of natural decline was much greater in remote and rural areas. We’ll look more closely at migration trends further below. 

In addition to exploring population change through a rural/urban lens, the sub-provincial data is also available for each census division. 



This breakdown shows that while all census divisions on the island recorded more deaths than births, the opposite was true in both Labrador census divisions where there were more births than deaths. 


Increasing Migration: Urban attraction and rural challenges

  Migratory Change  


Overview of Rural and Urban Trends


In the last year, both urban and rural areas of the province had an increase in migration, however, the situation in each area is different.  

 

Intraprovincial migration (population movement within the province) shows a net migration outflow of 909 people from rural areas to urban areas within the province. In other words, rural lost 909 people, and urban gained 909 people. Most of the people (849) who left rural NL and stayed within the province moved to the St. John’s CMA. 

 

While there was a net migration outflow of people from rural areas to urban areas of the province, rural areas gained population through interprovincial migration (population movement between provinces) while urban areas lost. On one hand, rural areas received a net inflow of 1,215 people from other provinces. Urban areas, on the other hand, saw a net outmigration of 673 people moving to other provinces. The St. John’s CMA had a net outmigration of 787. 

 

There was a net increase in international migration (population movement between countries) for both urban and rural areas of the province. The St. John’s CMA experienced this increase to a greater extent, especially with non-permanent residents. A net of 3,610 non-permanent residents moved to urban areas of the province (3,595 to the St. John’s CMA) and 244 to rural areas. For permanent residents, a net of 4,240 moved to urban areas (3,789 to the St. John’s CMA) and 946 to rural areas. As seen in the table below, most of the international migrants are younger than 45. 


Migration and Age

Overall, while net in-migration flows have generally been stronger in urban areas than rural areas, there are exceptions both across age groups and whether intraprovincial, interprovincial, or international flows are considered.   

 

In 2023, the time-tested trend persisted: youth and younger working-age adults (younger than 45 years) continued migrating from rural areas to the province’s urban areas, especially the St. John’s CMA. The opposite was true for the older working-age adults (45-64 years) as this cohort had a net positive flow into rural from urban. 

 

Interprovincial flows in and out of the province have a notably different look than other migration categories as rural areas had stronger growth than urban areas when all ages are totaled. As the strong outmigration flows out of urban areas are focused on younger working-age cohorts this is likely an outcome of the higher concentration of postsecondary institutions in the urban areas of the province.  More than half of the people who migrated to rural NL in 2023 from areas in Canada outside of the province were in the 45 to 64 age cohort. 


Different rates of aging in rural and urban areas

  Rising Median Age  


The Impacts of Migration on Median Age

Adapting to an aging population is a concern in many areas of Canada, however, rural areas have been aging faster than their urban counterparts. Over the past 20 years, larger natural population deficits combined with stronger youth outmigration and older population in-migration have led to Newfoundland and Labrador’s rural areas aging at a faster rate than its urban areas. 



Since 2003, the median age gap between urban and rural has steadily widened from about a 3-year gap in 2003 to over an 11-year gap in 2023. This means that local experiences with the effects of ageing on the province’s local labour markets and demands for services are more diverse than ever. Great care should be taken to ensure that information used for local decision-making is accurate to these local realities. 

 


By looking at the median age overtime for each census division we can see that many local areas in the province now have median ages of 55 years and over, implying a greater-than-ever urgency to address associated challenges in many areas of public policy including labour market planning, health care, and housing amongst others.  



 

What's Next?

On June 19, 2024, Statistics Canada released quarterly population data for Newfoundland and Labrador (the most recent quarter being Q2 2024). The data shows that overall, the population of the province continues to increase, though growth has slowed a bit since 2022/2023. Growth was driven mainly by international migration (both permanent and temporary residents) remaining near historic highs but was countered by an all-time high natural deficit (more deaths than births) for the first quarter and balanced interprovincial in- and out-migration flows. 


This June 2024 release is the most recent data available that provides insight into the population dynamics of Newfoundland and Labrador. Though the data is not as current, the sub-provincial data explored above (released May 2024) provides the insight needed to understand population dynamics at local levels across the province. Using both data releases together helps balance more recent provincial-level data with detailed sub-provincial data that are critical for informed planning and decision-making at the local level. 


Check back soon for more details!

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