Nova Scotia’s population crunch is coming sooner than expected and it may have a dramatic impact on the local economy, a new report suggests.

According to a study prepared for the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), the province’s population will likely continue to age and shrink rapidly over the next few decades.

By 2046, the total number of people living in the province is expected to drop by about eight per cent, resulting in a loss of about 100,000 workers.

“We knew we were headed for trouble,” said AIMS President Charles Cirtwill. “But this report shows the crunch is happening now, and we will continue to lose ground. We have to recognize that this will hurt our economy, our region, our future.”

Despite the gloomy outlook, the authors of the study say the labour force has shown significant growth in the last ten years, even as the population fell, which may help to diminish the impact of future losses.