Metro/Jeff Harper Sasha Sears poses for a portrait on the Halifax waterfront on Monday. The 20-something says the city should be seen as more than just a great place to retire.

An annual report on the state of affairs in Halifax suggests the city is headed at full steam for a future as an old folks home.

The 2012 Halifax Vital Signs report, due for release Tuesday morning, reveals several disturbing trends indicating university graduates, new immigrants and young families are hightailing it out of town.

Among the most notable is the drop in population of people under the age of 15, which nosedived by more than five times the national average between 2001 and 2011.

“The 30 to 45 demographic also shrunk by 13 per cent,” said Community Foundation of Nova Scotia executive director Allison Kouzovnikov. “Nowadays, people have children between 30 to 45, so if you’re losing that segment of the population, they’re not replenishing the babies – or they’re taking the children with them when they leave.”

Kouzovnikov says the over-45 population is growing steadily, suggesting more residents are coming back to Halifax in time for retirement.

In addition to making the local job market difficult for young professionals or new immigrants, she says that’s not setting up a sustainable economy.

“It’s very expensive to run a city as a retirement community,” she said. “If you look at public education and health care, all of these things are run based on our tax base. When people retire they earn less and pay less tax. They also become some of the most expensive citizens of all the demographics.”

Saint Mary’s University graduate Sasha Sears, who took part in the Community Foundation’s youth report card, says Halifax should be viewed as more than a great place to retire.

“It’s a great place to work and live and thrive now, there’s just a disconnect,” said Sears, who works with Greater Halifax Partnership. “People aren’t seeing it, I’m just not sure why.”

The Vital Signs report examines statistics and perceptions on everything from public safety to transportation to housing costs in Halifax.

Highlights from the Halifax Vital Signs

Median age in Halifax: 36.6 in 2001, 39.9 in 2011.

Proportion of seniors (65+): 11% of population in 2001, 13.1% in 2011.

Youth population (15 and under): 18.4% in 2001, 15.3% in 2011.

Foreign-born population: 6.9% in 2001, 7.4% in 2011.

• 73% of immigrants to HRM in 2010 were economic immigrants (skilled workers and investors.) 15.5% were family class, 9.6% were refugees, 1.8% were other immigrant categories.

• Growth in average housing price from 2001-2011: 93.2, 9th of 10 major Canadian cities. Average price doubled in eight other cities.

• Hottest housing market based on MLS housing sales/new listings ratio, January-July 2012: Halifax North (83%), Purcell’s Cove (79%), Woodside-Cow Bay (78%).

• Average rental cost in HRM: $866 in October 2011, compared to $836 in October 2010.

• Most expensive rental communities: Peninsular south ($1067,) Mainland North ($894) and Peninsular North ($879.)

• Student enrolment in Halifax Regional School Board: declined by about 12% from 2001-02 to 2011-12.

• School funding per student in Halifax Regional School Board: increased by about 60% in total from 2001 to 2011

Employment growth: grew by average of 1.7% annually from 2001 to 2011 for overall growth of 18%.

Top five occupations in HRM: sales/service (29.5%); business/finance/administration (21.9%); management (11.1%); social science/education/government/religion (10.8%); health professions (9.2%).

Average round-trip commute time: 65 minutes in 2006, 10th of 21 world cities – lowest among ranked Canadian cities.

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