New Brunswick’s urban areas have modern, service-based economies dominated by the health care, educational, retail, finance, and insurance sectors. These sectors are reasonably equitably distributed in all three principal urban centres. In addition, heavy industry and port facilities are found in Saint John; Fredericton is dominated by government services, universities, and the military; and Moncton has developed as a commercial, retail, transportation, and distribution centre with important rail and air terminal facilities.
The rural primary economy is best known for forestry, mining, mixed farming, and fishing.
Forestry is important in all areas of the province, but especially in the heavily forested central regions. There are many sawmills in the smaller towns and large pulp and paper mills located in Saint John, Miramichi, Nackawic, and Edmundston.
Heavy metals, including lead and zinc, are mined in the north around Bathurst. One of the world’s largest potash deposits is located in Sussex; a second potash mine, costing over a billion dollars, is in development in the Sussex region. Oil and natural gas deposits are also being developed in the Sussex region.
Farming is concentrated in the upper Saint John River valley (in the northwest portion of the province), where the most valuable crop is potatoes. Mixed and dairy farms are found elsewhere, but especially in the southeast, concentrated in the Kennebecasis and Petitcodiac river valleys.
The most valuable fish catches are lobster, scallops and king crab. The farming of Atlantic salmon in the Passamaquoddy Bay region is an important local industry.