BC Jobs Part I: A Visual Summary of BC's 2016 Job Performance Within Canada

February 27, 2017
Kristine St-Laurent

In this two-part series, BC Jobs, we look at recent developments in British Columbia’s labour market. In this first blog, we provide an overview of employment growth in 2016 within a comparative national framework. In the second part, we will take a deeper dive into the job market and shed some light on employment trends across BC’s regions.

Overall job growth: BC leads the pack

Good news – the BC labour market is clipping along at a healthy rate and we have been leading the country in employment growth for the past two years or so. In 2016, employment growth in BC tripled that in Ontario and Quebec and was nearly four times greater than the Canadian average.

Source: CANSIM, Table 282-0002.

How many jobs?

BC’s 3.2% growth in employment last year translated into 73,300 new jobs – a remarkable performance. BC’s labour market saw a gain of 38,500 full-time and 34,800 part-time positions. In comparison, employment in Ontario rose by 1.1% in 2016, while Quebec posted a 0.9% increase.

At the same time, all three prairie provinces experienced a contraction in employment, with Alberta hit the hardest. Employment also fell in three of four Atlantic provinces.

Source: CANSIM, Table 282-0142.

Which industries created the most jobs in BC?

The BC economy and job market was boosted in 2016 by real estate, construction, tourism, advanced technology, film and t.v. production, and high-value professional, scientific and technical services. The largest job producer was retail and wholesale trade, which employs a whopping 370,000 people (y/y gain of +17,000 in 2016). Health care, with 291,600 jobs (+4,200), and construction (211,000, up by 9,800 last year) also added significant numbers of new positions. Notable jobs gains also occurred in Information, Culture, and Recreation (+12,100), Business Services (+11,200), Public Administration (+7,600), Professional Services (+7,400) and Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (+7,300).

Between 2015 to 2016, job losses in BC were concentrated in Accommodation and Food Services (-3,300), Manufacturing (-2,400), and Transportation and Warehousing (-2,100).

Employment in health care is expected to increase over time given the escalating demand for services and our aging population. A relatively weak loonie should continue to lift jobs in the tourism industry. Additionally, with $439.3 billion of projects in the BC Major Projects Inventory, the construction sector in BC is also likely to be busy for at least a few more years.

Source: CANSIM, Table 282-0008.

Looking back and looking ahead

While 2016’s big jump in employment comes on the heels of slow recovery after the 2008/2009 recession, the diversity of BC’s economy, a rising population, and the province’s attractive mix of export industries, have all helped to strengthen the labour market.

Looking ahead, the 2017 BC Budget forecasts another decent year for the job market. Employment is projected to increase by 1.2% in 2017, adding 29,300 net new jobs. Private sector forecasts, e.g., from RBC, CIBC, BMO Capital Markets and TD Economics, also see BC continuing to outpace Canada in job creation in calendar 2017.

Source: CANSIM, Table 282-0087.

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