5.1 Trends in Gross Domestic Product

Last Updated: 
June 4, 2015


This indicator measures trends in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the NWT.

GDP is a measure of the total market value of all goods  and services produced in the NWT in a given year. This includes total consumer, investment and government spending, plus exports, minus imports. GDP includes all  goods and services produced within NWT, regardless of  the producer's nationality.

Ekati Diamond Mine, NWT
Ekati Diamond Mine, NWT. Photo credit: Dave Brosha

NWT focus

The NWT economy is largely based on the extraction of non-renewable resources. Activities related to this type of economy have environmental costs that are not necessarily measured at the time of extraction. Tracking how well our economy is doing and which industries or activities are contributing the most to our economic productivity is important to understanding how economic decisions made in the past influence the state of the environment today. Similarly, today’s long-term economic decisions will affect the environment of future generations.

Current view: status and trend

The GDP of the NWT increased from $3.9 billion in 2003 to $44.4 billion in 20131. Since 2003, many sectors of the NWT have fluctuated significantly. Mining and oil and gas extraction, the traditional primary sector of the NWT economy went from a value of $1.6 billion in 2003 to $978 million in 20132. GDP growth has occurred in the educational services, finance and insurance, and public administration sectors2.

NWT Economy by sector 2013
Source: Derived from GNWT-ITI - Economic Outlook 2014-2015 Report.

In the NWT, corporate profits form about 25% of income-based GDP in the NWT. This is almost twice the national average. Resident income constitutes a smaller share (42%) of the GDP in the NWT than in the rest of Canada (51%) or the Yukon (55%). This reflects one of the peculiarities of the NWT economy; there is a fair degree of “income leakage”. Incomes from both value-added products and migrant workers are leaking out of the NWT. 

Source: Derived from NWT Bureau of Statistics - GDP for Canada, Provinces and Territories.

Looking forward

At least in the near future, the NWT’s economy is expected to remain largely based on non-renewable resources. The NWT’s economy, as measured by the GDP, is influenced by the global economy. Current and future global economic uncertainties are directly reflected in short-term financial decisions made by resource industries, which in turn results in a NWT economy that follows a “boom and bust” pattern. The NWT economy is expected to grow by 1.3% by 2018, with significant growth in the mining sector3.

Looking around

Between 2012-2013, the NWT experienced a decrease in GDP (millions of current dollars) of 1.6%, compared to a 3.4% growth for Canada, 9.2% growth in Nunavut, and 1.4% growth in the Yukon4. The NWT was the only province or territory to experience negative growth during this time.

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Contact us

Found an error or have a question? Contact the team at NWTSOER@gov.nt.ca.


Ref. 1. NWT Bureau of Statistics. 2014. GDP for Canada, Provinces and Territories 1999 to 2017.

Ref. 2. NWT Bureau of Statistics. 2014. NWT GDP by Industry 2007-2013.

Ref. 3. GNWT-ITI. 2014. Economic Outlook 2014-2015 Report.

Ref. 4. NWT Bureau of Statistics. 2014. New Stats.