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Nunavut: Economy

Many of the Inuit still live off the land following their traditional economy; hunting, trapping, gathering and fishing. Increasingly carving and artistic pursuits are becoming staple economic activities throughout much of the north. The annual economic value of subsistence harvesting in Nunavut is estimated between $30 million and $50 million a year. Official estimates put the arts and crafts industry at more than $20 million per year, with more than 2,500 people deriving all or part of their income from this industry.

A limited wage economy exists in Nunavut, but there is a difference in the way residents participate; 60 per cent of Nunavut's adult Inuit population is in the labor force, although 28 per cent of that group is unemployed. Ninety-one per cent of Nunavut's small non-aboriginal population is in the labor force, with a four per cent unemployment rate.

Nunavut relies on federal transfer payments for at least 90 per cent of its revenue. Government employment is a mainstay of the wage economy with many of Nunavut's small businesses and retail outlets established to support government needs, or those of public servants.

Mining contributes 500 jobs to Nunavut's wage economy, but non-residents fill more than 85 per cent of these jobs. Lead, zinc, silver, and gold are all mined in Nunavut.

Construction has been growing as the governmental infrastructure has been established. A more self-reliant construction industry is developing which helps Inuit-owned businesses in Nunavut benefit from federal and territorial contracts.

Several fishing and meat processing plants operate in Nunavut.


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