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Exportable Services: An Important Source of Job Growth for BC

More than three-quarters of all employed people in British Columbia are engaged in producing “services” rather than “goods.”  Services span a wide array of industry sectors, everything from retail and wholesale trade to professional services (engineering, law, accounting, architecture, etc.), scientific and technical services, transportation, financial services, accommodation and food services as well as services that are mainly delivered or at least largely funded by governments (public administration, education, and health and social services).   Many of these service industries loom large in the labour market.  Retail and wholesale trade, for example, together employ 350,000 British Columbians, another 200,000 or so toil in the broadly-defined education sector, 150,000 work in financial services, and 275,000 earn their livelihood by providing health-related services.

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Business Growth, Job Creation and Innovation

Canada ranks as one of the best places in the world to start a new business, according to an annual survey done by the World Bank. But the country does less well when it comes to encouraging enterprises to grow – and in fostering private sector innovation.

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Skill Shortages: Weighing Employers' Views

While academic researchers and policy analysts continue to debate the extent and implications of skill shortages, employers in Canada seem convinced that shortages exist and are an important factor constraining business expansion.

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The Demand for and Supply of Skills

One of the puzzles in the contemporary Canadian labour market is the co-existence of skills shortages in some regions and occupations along with an unemployment rate hovering near 7% as well as mounting evidence of significant “under-employment” among many workers – particularly young adults. This situation suggests there are labour market imbalances, and that they appear to be growing larger over time. Many Business Council members tell us that British Columbia is experiencing mismatches in the demand for and supply of skills.

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Plenty of Job Openings for People with the Right Skills

For anyone planning a career path or deciding what to take or study at school, the provincial government’s WorkBC website (http://www.workbc.ca/) is a very useful resource.  It contains information for job seekers and employers along with lots of statistics on the labour market outlook for different regions and occupations.

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How Much Are Employees in BC Earning?

The question of what people are paid in their jobs is obviously of great importance to individual employees. It’s also relevant in a broader, macro-economic sense. Because the bulk of total household income comes from employment, it follows that the spending power of most people is strongly influenced by how much they earn from working.

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Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (CSKFTA) is Good News for BC

The conclusion of the protracted negotiations to establish a free trade agreement with South Korea is a positive step for British Columbia. South Korea is the fourth largest destination for BC’s merchandise exports (after the US, China and Japan), so improved access to its market will be helpful for a number of the province’s export industries. The agreement also lays the foundation for an expansion of services trade, business travel, and investment between the two countries.

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Investment Intentions in BC: A Pause Before the Boom?

Last week, Statistics Canada released its annual investment intentions survey results for the coming year (2014). Completed over the period of October through January, the survey gauges the near-term investment intentions of a large number of private and public sector organizations across the country, with a focus on planned investment activity in three areas: residential building, non-residential structures, and machinery and equipment (M&E).

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Business incentives – trade barrier or necessary economic development tool?

“Canada is a guppy in shark infested waters.”  Sergio Marchionne, CEO Chrysler Group

With that remarkably candid assessment of Canada’s ability to compete with automotive industry incentives being offered by Mexico and various American states for a $3.6 billion manufacturing investment tentatively planned for the Chrysler’s Canadian operations, the company’s CEO ensured that his views hit the business pages of newspapers across Canada.  And his comment was made after the Ontario government had already committed to significant tax incentives for the automotive sector and the federal government had just unveiled a budget featuring a half billion dollar Automotive Incentive Fund.

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The Middle Class is Not Disappearing After All...

Statistics Canada’s new survey of household finances throws cold water on the often-voiced assertion that the ranks of the country’s middle class have been dramatically thinned by the combined forces of rising income inequality, globalization and disruptive technological change.

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A Snapshot of Government Debt Across the Land

The start of the 2014 government budget season is an opportune moment to update the figures on accumulated public sector debt for Canada’s ten provinces as well as the national government.

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Building Links Between Disabled Persons and the Workforce

About 700,000 people in BC are characterized as having some kind of disability, and approximately half of these are in the “traditional” working age group of 15 to 64. The good news is that 56% of disabled British Columbians are employed, albeit this is about 20% lower than the share for non-disabled workers.  Some 64% of the 150,000 disabled persons who are not in the workforce are precluded from working due to the severity of their limitations. 

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Recent Jump in Part time Employment is Not a Reflection of Deteriorating Job Quality

Amid soft labour market conditions in BC last year, some concerns emerged about the quality of jobs being created in the province. In particular, an increase in the number of part-time jobs in the latter months of year was seen as an indication that people were unable to find a full-time job and settling for part-time work.

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BC Ports and Shipping Industry are Global Leaders

The shipping industry is one of the oldest in the world but is not well known -- even though many immigrants arrived by boat to North America.  Settlers relied on ships to move supplies to the New World from the Old World.  Today, shipping is still a fundamental means of conducting trade and transporting goods from place to place. In Canada, shipping represents the dominant mode of bulk deliveries for both exports and imports to and from markets other than the United States.

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BP's Global Energy Outlook 2035 - Confirmation of Some Key Energy Trends

Given the critical importance of energy production and use  to our societies (economic , social and environmental), the forecasting of energy supply and demand is an essential tool in helping to shape the myriad public and private sector policies and investment decisions required to ensure energy availability and effective energy resource use.

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The Upside of a Lower Dollar for BC

In early May last year the Canadian dollar was trading near parity with the US dollar. Between May and mid-October it fluctuated between 99 and 96 US cents per Canadian dollar.  In November the Loonie started on a more definitive downward trend and by early 2014 it had fallen sharply to about 91.5 US cents.  This relatively rapid decline hurts Canadian residents inclined to shop in the US, snowbirds and residents vacationing south of the border.  But on balance, the fall in the Loonie is good news for BC in an overall economic sense.

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The Plight of the Overeducated Worker

One feature of today’s labour market is the swelling ranks of what appear to be “over-qualified” or “over-educated” employees.

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Top 10 Economic Questions for BC in 2014...and the Business Council's Predictions

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BC Productivity Numbers Disappoint

Statistics Canada has just released productivity estimates for 2012, and for BC the news isn’t very heartening. Labour productivity in the province’s business sector fell by 1.4% last year, after posting a solid 2.8% gain in 2011.

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Signs of Life: Retail Spending in BC Gaining Some Strength

After more than a year of moving sideways, retail spending in BC is finally showing some signs of strengthening.

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