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A Snapshot of BC’s Fastest Growing Industries

By Ken Peacock

The figure below displays the 30 BC industries that have grown most rapidly over the past five years, based on average annual growth in economic output (real GDP) between 2011 and 2016.  Last year’s growth rate for each of the industries is also included in the figure to provide an indication of the most recent performance relative to the five-year average.  In most instances, 2016’s growth is similar to the longer five-year average, suggesting that many of the province’s fastest growing industries continue to expand at a steady clip.  The numbers in parenthesis beside the industry are the shares of total provincial GDP that each industry accounts for. 

All industries collectively (equal to BC’s overall growth rate) averaged 3.0% over the past five years.  In 2016 growth was 3.7%.  Consistent with diverse growth across many sectors, both the goods sector and services sector expanded at a similar pace over the past half decade.  In 2016 the goods sector (4.6%) outpaced growth in the services sector (3.5%); in part this reflected strength in some commodity markets and a rise in the value of BC’s resource and manufacturing exports.

A brief overview of the top 30 industries…

One thing that emerges from the list is the outsized influence of residential housing in the provincial economy. With output expanding at an annual pace of almost 12%, Offices of Real Estate Agents was the second fastest growing industry over the past five years.  Residential Building Construction ranked fourth.  Residential construction is also the largest industry on the list, directly accounting for 4.1% of the province’s GDP.  The supply of building materials – both at the wholesale and the retail level – also emerges as a leading growth industry.  The 30th industry listed, Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores, has also benefitted from the expansion of the housing complex in BC. 

High technology and other advanced service industries also features prominently on the list of strong growth sectors.  The Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting industry is the third fastest growing industry.  Computer Systems Design Services as well as the Software industry have also been growth leaders.  Scientific Research Services is a sophisticated knowledge industry that is growing comparatively quickly. 

Transportation shows up with Truck Transportation, Support Activities for Transportation, Pipeline Transportation, and Airline Transportation all included in the top 30 growth industries.   

A number of export-focused industries in the resources sector also make the list.  At the top of the heap is Primary Metal Manufacturing.  In 2016, output in this industry grew a stunning 88%, largely owing to the scaling up to full production at Rio Tinto’s new Aluminum production facility in Kitimat.  Wood Products Manufacturing and Metal Ore Mining are also growth leaders. 

The Motion Picture and Recording Industry is an export-oriented service industry that has also posted solid growth, with GDP expanding at an average pace of 6.7% since 2011.