Economic Insights
Recent Economic Developments in British Columbia

by Elizabeth Richards
Analytical Studies Branch

Release date: May 28, 2018

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This article in the Economic Insights series provides an integrated summary of recent changes in output, employment, earnings and housing market activity in British Columbia. Highlighting the contribution of real estate and residential construction to economic growth in particular, the paper focuses on the province’s economic performance since 2014.  Unless otherwise noted, the tabulations presented in this report are based on seasonally adjusted data available in CANSIM on May 2, 2018.

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Overview

From 2014 to 2016, British Columbia’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in a decade, as output in real estate and residential construction industries strengthened markedly. British Columbia led growth among Canadian provinces in 2015 and 2016, as economic activity in the central provinces expanded at a more moderate pace and Alberta’s economy contracted. As Alberta’s economy rebounded in 2017, the pace of economic growth continued to accelerate in British Columbia, as output in the province expanded at the fastest pace since 2005.

British Columbia’s recent economic expansion was more narrowly based than from 2004 to 2006. On an expenditure basis, household spending contributed to over half of the growth from 2014 to 2016. Among industries, real estate and residential construction accounted for about one third of growth in 2015 and 2016. More recent industry data suggest a broadening of economic growth for British Columbia in 2017, as the contribution of real estate and residential construction to growth moderated.

Stronger economic growth coincided with improved labour market conditions, as employment increased and the unemployment rate trended lower. Higher employment in industries related to real estate and residential construction and in Vancouver led the gains. The unemployment rate declined to 4.6% in December 2017, and reached the lowest level among the provinces in 2016 and 2017. More recently, the unemployment rate in the province has remained below or at 5% in early 2018.

British Columbia tops growth among provinces in 2015 and 2016

Economic growth in British Columbia was the highest among the provinces in 2015 and 2016, and accelerated further in 2017. Real gross domestic product (GDP) in British Columbia increased to 3.9% in 2017 and 3.6% in 2016, following growth of 3.3% in 2015 and 3.6% in 2014 . Economic activity in the central provinces also strengthened from 2014 to 2017, albeit at a slower pace. Output in Ontario expanded by 2.8% in 2017, up from 2.6% in 2016. Economic growth in Quebec accelerated in 2017, reaching 3.1%, following a 1.5% gain in 2016.

Over the past decade, British Columbia’s economy has become increasingly oriented towards services. When global trade volumes slowed substantially during the 2008-2009 recession, Canadian exports of crude oil and motor vehicles declined markedly, leading to sharp downturns in 2009 in resource-based and manufacturing-based provinces, such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. By contrast, Quebec and British Columbia experienced relatively less severe contractions, as their economies are relatively more service intensive than Alberta and Saskatchewan. More recently, while notable declines in crude oil prices and a weaker Canadian dollar weighed on growth at the national level in 2015 and 2016, British Columbia’s economy expanded on strength in services.Note 1 In 2017, both service and goods industries supported growth in the province

Chart 1 Real  gross domestic product growth by province

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Geography (appearing as row headers), 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Geography 2014 2015 2016 2017
percent
British Columbia 3.6 3.3 3.6 3.9
Alberta 5.9 -3.9 -3.6 4.9
Saskatchewan 1.9 -1.2 -0.4 2.9
Manitoba 1.9 1.4 2.1 2.9
Ontario 2.5 2.8 2.6 2.8
Quebec 1.6 1.0 1.5 3.1
New Brunswick 0.1 2.3 1.2 1.9
Nova Scotia 1.0 1.2 1.0 1.2
Prince Edward Island 0.3 1.5 2.2 3.2
Newfoundland and Labrador -1.1 -1.5 1.7 2.1

Growth from 2014 to 2016 more narrowly-based than during the mid-2000s

From 2014 to 2016, British Columbia’s economy expanded at the fastest-pace since the mid-2000s, a period of broad-based expansion. From 2004 to 2006, real GDP in the province increased by an average of over 4.0%, on strength in both goods and services. During this period, output accelerated in technology-based industries that typically hire highly skilled workers, such as information and culture, finance and insurance and professional services. Business creation peaked in the mid-2000s, as the entry rate for new businesses rose to over 18.0%, while the exit rate was stable at about 14.0%.Note 2

Output gains from 2014 to 2016 were more narrowly-based, as industries hiring highly skilled workers posted more modest increases. Growth in real estate, rental and leasing was comparable between both periods, while growth in retail trade was stronger in the mid-2000s. Likewise, the contribution of goods-based industries , particularly construction, was more modest from 2014 to 2016 than in the mid-2000s.

By contrast, economic growth in 2017 broadened, reflecting gains in services and a notable contribution from goods industries. While non-residential construction contracted and growth for residential construction slowed substantially, output for construction continued to strengthen on notable gains in engineering construction, partly due to new projects in oil and gas engineering construction. Gains in primary metals and machinery supported the growth in manufacturing, while mining and quarrying and oil and gas extraction declined.

While the pace of growth slowed for real estate and rental and leasing, professional services and finance and insurance in 2017, it accelerated for wholesale trade and retail trade.

Chart 2 Real  GDP for British Columbia, selected industries

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Manufacturing , Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting , Retail trade , Transportation and warehousing , Finance and insurance , Real estate and rental and leasing , Professional, scientific and technical services and Information and communication technology sector , calculated using index (2000 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Manufacturing Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting Retail trade Transportation and warehousing Finance and insurance Real estate and rental and leasing Professional, scientific and technical services Information and communication technology sector
index (2000 = 100)
2000 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
2001 91.7 102.7 103.9 98.5 100.0 103.5 102.5 97.4
2002 91.1 101.7 106.7 99.4 101.4 108.1 104.8 104.8
2003 92.5 103.2 110.3 100.2 103.8 111.7 108.6 115.4
2004 98.8 111.2 116.3 104.0 113.6 116.7 114.2 122.4
2005 103.5 111.5 123.2 113.4 117.3 122.6 120.5 130.6
2006 106.7 109.8 133.1 115.6 126.9 126.8 131.8 137.2
2007 106.3 106.1 139.9 115.9 131.7 132.6 141.7 142.9
2008 97.8 95.7 141.3 113.5 128.8 135.5 147.0 143.2
2009 84.2 82.3 137.9 113.5 126.7 140.4 138.2 136.2
2010 89.2 91.8 143.1 116.1 132.4 145.3 138.6 141.9
2011 92.3 101.1 143.7 119.7 136.0 149.7 145.9 144.6
2012 95.0 101.5 143.6 122.3 135.2 155.7 152.6 148.5
2013 94.5 106.5 152.5 128.4 140.2 161.2 162.9 148.8
2014 99.7 105.7 154.3 135.3 143.6 167.6 173.4 159.1
2015 102.0 112.4 166.0 141.1 151.4 176.1 182.1 162.1
2016 107.9 113.0 175.5 149.0 157.8 183.3 191.3 168.4
2017 112.7 109.0 186.6 160.3 163.5 189.1 198.7 176.2

Housing activity and consumer spending central to recent gains

Capital spending on residential structures was a major contributor to economic growth from 2014 to 2016. The pace of spending accelerated in each year, advancing 10.1% in 2015 and 15.0% in 2016. From 2014 to 2016, outlays on residential structures rose by 35.8%, the strongest cumulative growth since the mid-2000s.

Consumer spending also supported growth from 2014 to 2016, led by higher outlays on durables. The pace of spending slowed in 2016, advancing 3.2%, following an increase of 3.8% in 2014 and 3.7% in 2015. Spending on transport increased in all three years, as British Columbians purchased more new trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles.  Spending also increased notably for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels in the same period, reflecting gains in rental fees for housing.

To a lesser extent, exports of goods and services supported growth during this period.  Following an increase of 5.1% in 2014, growth in exports to other countries moderated, advancing 4.3% in 2015 and 1.7% in 2016. Export volumes of goods to other countries were 10.3% higher in 2016, when compared to 2013 levels, while exports of services to other countries increased 14.5%.

Higher household spending in recent years has occurred while capital outlays by businesses contracted. Following a 9.6% increase in 2014, non-residential business investment declined in 2015 and 2016. By 2016, non-residential business investment was 10.9% lower than 2013 levels. By contrast, investment spending by businesses increased notably in the mid-2000s, advancing 46.5% during the province’s last period of strong economic growth.

Government expenditures supported growth in 2015 and 2016. Following a 1.9% decline in 2014, spending picked up and increased by 2.5% in 2015 and 2016.

Chart 3 Real  GDP for British Columbia, selected components

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Estimates, Household final consumption expenditure, General governments final consumption expenditure, Residential structures, Exports of goods and services and Non-residential structures, machinery and equipment, calculated using index (2000 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Estimates
Household final consumption expenditure General governments final consumption expenditure Residential structures Exports of goods and services Non-residential structures, machinery and equipment
index (2000 = 100)
2000 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
2001 102.3 103.3 110.1 98.8 105.3
2002 106.1 104.8 128.3 99.1 100.7
2003 109.7 105.2 138.2 101.7 105.1
2004 114.7 104.6 162.0 106.9 117.0
2005 119.5 105.9 173.7 112.1 131.3
2006 126.7 107.2 186.2 116.3 154.0
2007 133.4 112.9 190.3 119.0 156.0
2008 136.5 117.4 180.8 115.2 168.4
2009 136.8 118.8 165.3 107.5 140.2
2010 141.9 119.7 165.6 115.9 155.9
2011 145.1 122.1 170.3 121.3 170.4
2012 148.1 124.2 182.6 125.3 182.5
2013 152.0 124.2 183.8 129.3 174.9
2014 157.7 121.9 197.0 137.2 191.7
2015 163.5 125.0 216.9 141.0 168.3
2016 168.8 128.1 249.5 143.7 155.8

Household spending was the main contributor to GDP growth from 2014 to 2016, accounting for over half to about two thirds of the overall growth. Outlays on residential structures contributed to growth in both 2015 and 2016, but was more than offset by declines in non-residential business investment in 2015. Exports of goods and services also contributed to growth in both years.

Chart 4 Contribution to percent change real GDP  growth in British Columbia, selected components

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Selected components (appearing as row headers), 2015 and 2016, calculated using percentage points units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Selected components 2015 2016
percentage points
Non-profit institutions serving households' final consumption expenditure 0.054 0.022
Investment in inventories 0.159 -0.126
Less: imports of goods and services 0.060 -0.455
General governments final consumption expenditure 0.470 0.462
Exports of goods and services 1.087 0.736
Gross fixed capital formation -0.728 0.856
Household final consumption expenditure 2.376 2.076

Contribution of housing activity to growth moderated in 2017

When measured on an industry basis, service providers accounted for about two thirds of economic growth in British Columbia from 2014 to 2017 comparable to contributions in Ontario and Quebec. Real estate, rental and leasing contributed to about one fifth or more of growth in British Columbia from 2014 to 2016. Taken together, real estate and residential building construction activity accounted for about one third of the expansion in 2015 and 2016. By contrast, these industries contributed to about one quarter or less of the growth in Ontario from 2014 to 2016, during a period of heightened housing market activity, as finance and insurance and other service industries made more important contributions to growth in that province.

In 2017, real estate and rental and leasing accounted for about one sixth of economic growth, its contribution having moderated for two consecutive years.  Meanwhile,  transportation and warehousing and wholesale trade became more central to growth during the same period, supported by gains in retail trade, professional services and finance and insurance.

Chart 5 Contribution to percent change of real GDP  growth in British Columbia, goods and services

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Goods-producing industries and Service-producing industries, calculated using percentage points units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Goods-producing industries Service-producing industries
percentage points
2008 -0.294 0.899
2009 -2.414 -0.230
2010 1.306 1.377
2011 1.045 1.796
2012 0.967 1.617
2013 0.078 2.275
2014 1.341 2.214
2015 0.024 3.228
2016 0.763 2.827
2017 1.165 2.771

Chart 6 Contribution to percent change real GDP growth  in British Columbia, service industries

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6. The information is grouped by Service industries (appearing as row headers), 2015, 2016 and 2017, calculated using percentage points units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Service industries 2015 2016 2017
percentage points
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services 0.050 -0.001 -0.028
Management of companies and enterprises 0.009 -0.023 0.017
Information and cultural industries 0.018 0.058 0.023
Arts, entertainment and recreation 0.049 0.060 0.035
Other services (except public administration) 0.046 0.002 0.045
Educational services 0.378 0.114 0.092
Public administration 0.108 0.132 0.112
Accommodation and food services 0.079 0.100 0.121
Health care and social assistance 0.140 0.173 0.134
Finance and insurance 0.314 0.249 0.21
Professional, scientific and technical services 0.309 0.317 0.239
Wholesale trade 0.138 0.218 0.348
Retail trade 0.439 0.349 0.389
Transportation and warehousing 0.248 0.328 0.456
Real estate and rental and leasing 0.903 0.749 0.577

Non-residential capital spending increases notably in 2017 on higher public outlays

Capital spending in British Columbia increased 20.9% in 2017, reflecting gains in private and public expenditures. Capital spending in 2017 rebounded from lower levels in 2015 and 2016. Notably, private spending advanced 18.3%, reflecting gains in construction outlays, while public spending rose 26.5% on both construction and machinery and equipment.  Based on spending intentions reported to Statistics Canada, capital outlays are expected to increase 1.2% in 2018 on higher public spending.

On an industry basis, spending for transportation and warehousing increased 56.0% in 2017, accounting for over 40% of the overall gains in non-residential capital expenditures. Higher spending by public administration and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction also contributed to the advance. Based on intentions for 2018, spending in utilities, manufacturing and real estate and rental and leasing is expected to increase, while spending is anticipated to decline in mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction and educational services.

Chart 7 Capital  expenditures for British Columbia, by type of ownership

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by Type of ownership (appearing as row headers), Private and Public, calculated using billions of dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of ownership Private Public
billions of dollars
2007 16.0 7.3
2008 17.0 9.2
2009 14.3 8.0
2010 16.2 7.9
2011 16.6 8.3
2012 18.9 9.0
2013 17.7 8.0
2014 20.1 8.6
2015 18.3 8.0
2016 17.9 8.4
2017 21.2 10.7
2018 20.8 11.4

Unemployment in British Columbia trended lower in 2016 and 2017

Labour market conditions improved markedly in British Columbia in 2016 and 2017, as the unemployment rate trended lower and employment rose among core-aged workers. In December 2017, the unemployment rate fell to 4.6%, the lowest level among the provinces. Previously, the unemployment rate in British Columbia stood at 5.8% in December 2016 and 6.7% in December 2015. The employment rate increased throughout 2016 and 2017, reaching 62.3% in December 2017. Despite the improvements in labour market conditions, the unemployment and employment rates in December 2017 had yet to recover to their pre-recession levels.

Consistent with trends at the national level, the unemployment rate in British Columbia was lowest among core-aged workers (aged 25 to 54) and highest among young workers (aged 15 to 24) in December 2017. Generally, employment rates for core-aged men, core-aged women and young women trended higher in 2017.  While labour force participation rates for youth in Canada declined following the 2008-2009 recession and have yet to recover to previous levels, the participation of youth in the labour market in British Columbia has picked up notably in 2017.

More recently, labour market conditions in British Columbia moderated in the first quarter of 2018, consistent with trends at the national level, as the provincial unemployment rate edged up to 4.7% in March 2018, while the employment rate trended lower. The unemployment rate in the province edged up to 5.0% in April 2018.

Chart 8 Unemployment  and employment rate for British Columbia

Data table for Chart 8
Data table for Chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 8 Unemployment rate and Employment rate, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Unemployment rate Employment rate
percent
2007
January 4.3 63.3
February 4.2 63.2
March 4.1 63.4
April 4.5 62.9
May 4.3 63.2
June 4.4 63.1
July 4.3 62.8
August 4.0 63.0
September 4.4 63.1
October 4.4 63.1
November 4.2 63.4
December 4.1 63.5
2008
January 4.2 63.7
February 4.3 63.4
March 4.6 63.6
April 4.4 63.6
May 4.4 63.4
June 4.2 63.6
July 4.6 63.3
August 4.3 63.2
September 4.4 63.1
October 5.0 62.7
November 5.2 62.3
December 5.6 62.1
2009
January 6.4 61.6
February 7.2 61.2
March 7.4 60.8
April 7.8 60.9
May 7.6 61.1
June 8.2 60.8
July 7.9 60.7
August 8.2 60.4
September 7.4 60.5
October 7.9 60.3
November 8.2 60.6
December 8.3 60.5
2010
January 8.1 60.7
February 7.6 61.0
March 7.5 61.0
April 7.4 60.8
May 7.6 60.5
June 7.8 60.6
July 7.6 60.9
August 7.3 60.9
September 7.6 60.4
October 7.4 60.6
November 6.9 60.8
December 7.3 60.5
2011
January 8.0 60.1
February 8.7 60.0
March 8.1 60.3
April 7.9 60.4
May 7.3 60.0
June 7.2 60.1
July 7.4 59.9
August 7.3 59.8
September 7.0 60.4
October 6.7 60.4
November 7.1 60.2
December 7.1 60.4
2012
January 7.0 60.4
February 7.1 60.4
March 7.1 60.6
April 6.7 60.8
May 7.1 60.5
June 6.8 60.4
July 6.9 60.3
August 6.6 60.6
September 6.8 60.6
October 6.7 60.4
November 7.0 60.1
December 6.8 59.9
2013
January 6.7 59.8
February 6.4 60.3
March 7.2 59.7
April 6.5 60.1
May 6.6 59.9
June 6.5 59.9
July 6.6 59.8
August 6.6 60.1
September 6.4 59.8
October 6.6 59.5
November 6.6 59.2
December 6.7 59.6
2014
January 6.4 59.8
February 6.3 59.7
March 6.0 59.7
April 6.1 59.6
May 6.2 59.6
June 6.2 59.6
July 6.2 59.4
August 6.3 59.2
September 6.2 59.3
October 6.1 59.2
November 5.7 59.4
December 5.4 59.3
2015
January 5.6 59.5
February 6.0 59.2
March 5.7 59.3
April 6.4 58.5
May 6.1 59.3
June 6.0 59.4
July 6.2 59.4
August 6.2 59.6
September 6.5 59.8
October 6.2 60.2
November 6.1 60.2
December 6.7 59.9
2016
January 6.6 59.9
February 6.6 60.2
March 6.4 60.3
April 5.7 60.6
May 6.1 60.2
June 6.0 60.4
July 5.6 60.8
August 5.5 60.6
September 5.7 60.6
October 6.0 61.0
November 6.0 60.7
December 5.8 61.1
2017
January 5.5 61.4
February 5.1 61.7
March 5.3 61.7
April 5.4 62.0
May 5.6 62.1
June 5.1 62.4
July 5.2 62.2
August 5.0 62.3
September 4.9 62.0
October 4.9 61.8
November 4.8 62.3
December 4.6 62.3
2018
January 4.8 62.1
February 4.7 62.0
March 4.7 61.8

Employment gains were broad-based across the province

Employment growth in 2016 and 2017 reflected both gains in Vancouver and improvements in other local economies across the province. Vancouver, home to over half of the provincial labour force, contributed to strengthening labour market conditions. In December 2017, the three-month moving average for the unemployment rate in Vancouver declined to 4.1%, having decreased from 5.1% in December 2016. Previously, the unemployment rate had reached 5.8% in December 2015. The employment rate in Vancouver rose to 64.6% in December 2017, having stood at 62.5% in December 2016.

In December 2017, employment in Vancouver was 64,700 higher on a year-over-year basis, accounting for over three quarters of the overall gain for the province during this period. The increase in British Columbia was bolstered by higher year-over-year employment in Kelowna (7,300) and Victoria (6,100). The unemployment rate in Victoria declined to 3.5% in December 2017, down from 5.1% in December 2016. Notable improvements were observed in Kelowna, as the unemployment rate fell to 6.2% in December 2017, down from 8.2% in December 2016.

More recently, the unemployment rate in Vancouver continued to edge lower in the first quarter of 2018, while Victoria’s unemployment rate rose from levels at year-end.

Chart 9 Unemployment  and employment rate for Vancouver, 3-month moving average

Data table for Chart 9
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9 Unemployment rate and Employment rate, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Unemployment rate Employment rate
percent
2007
January 4.5 63.6
February 4.1 64.3
March 3.5 64.7
April 3.7 64.5
May 4.0 64.1
June 4.3 63.8
July 4.1 64.0
August 3.9 63.9
September 4.0 63.8
October 4.2 63.7
November 4.3 64.0
December 4.1 64.4
2008
January 3.8 65.0
February 3.7 65.0
March 3.7 64.9
April 3.9 64.4
May 4.1 64.1
June 4.2 63.8
July 4.2 63.6
August 4.2 63.5
September 4.2 63.3
October 4.3 63.2
November 4.5 63.0
December 5.0 62.7
2009
January 5.4 62.4
February 6.0 62.1
March 6.4 62.0
April 6.9 62.1
May 7.1 62.1
June 7.3 62.3
July 7.4 62.1
August 7.7 61.9
September 7.4 61.8
October 7.6 61.5
November 7.5 61.5
December 7.8 61.4
2010
January 7.9 61.6
February 7.8 61.5
March 7.7 61.3
April 7.5 61.0
May 7.6 60.8
June 7.6 60.8
July 7.6 61.0
August 7.3 61.4
September 7.2 61.6
October 7.2 61.6
November 7.0 61.6
December 6.9 61.7
2011
January 6.9 61.5
February 7.9 61.2
March 8.1 61.0
April 8.3 61.0
May 7.6 61.4
June 7.3 61.4
July 7.1 61.3
August 7.4 61.1
September 7.2 61.8
October 6.9 62.3
November 6.7 62.6
December 7.0 62.1
2012
January 7.0 61.7
February 6.9 61.6
March 6.7 61.7
April 6.4 61.9
May 6.6 62.1
June 6.6 62.0
July 6.9 62.0
August 6.9 61.8
September 6.9 61.7
October 7.0 61.6
November 7.0 61.4
December 6.9 61.2
2013
January 6.8 60.9
February 6.6 60.9
March 6.9 60.9
April 6.9 61.1
May 6.6 61.0
June 6.4 60.7
July 6.5 60.5
August 6.9 60.4
September 6.8 60.3
October 6.6 60.1
November 6.4 59.9
December 6.4 60.4
2014
January 6.2 60.9
February 6.1 61.1
March 5.9 61.0
April 5.8 60.9
May 5.6 61.1
June 5.7 61.1
July 5.8 61.0
August 5.9 60.9
September 6.1 60.8
October 6.3 60.7
November 6.2 60.8
December 6.0 60.7
2015
January 5.9 60.8
February 5.9 60.6
March 5.8 60.5
April 5.9 60.1
May 6.0 60.1
June 6.1 60.1
July 5.9 60.2
August 5.8 60.4
September 5.9 60.7
October 6.0 61.5
November 5.8 62.1
December 5.8 62.3
2016
January 5.8 62.3
February 6.2 62.3
March 6.2 62.5
April 5.9 62.7
May 5.5 62.8
June 5.2 62.9
July 5.3 63.0
August 5.2 63.2
September 4.9 63.3
October 5.0 63.1
November 5.1 62.6
December 5.1 62.5
2017
January 5.0 62.3
February 4.7 62.7
March 4.7 62.8
April 4.8 63.1
May 5.2 63.5
June 5.1 64.0
July 4.9 64.3
August 4.6 64.3
September 4.4 64.1
October 4.2 64.0
November 4.2 64.2
December 4.1 64.6
2018
January 4.1 65.1
February 3.9 65.1
March 4.0 64.9

Full-time work and services led employment gains in 2017

Employment in British Columbia increased at a faster pace than at the national level and in the central provinces in 2016 and 2017.Note 3 The province was responsible for almost one fifth of the year-over-year increase in employment at the national level in December 2017.

Full-time work was mainly responsible for employment gains in British Columbia in 2017, as full-time jobs rose by 67,000 on a year-over-year basis in December, while part-time jobs increased 8,800. Full-time employment for core-aged workers was mainly responsible for the advance. In 2016, part-time work had contributed more substantially to employment gains. Further, part-time gains for young workers, in addition to full-time increases for older and core-aged workers, led the growth in 2016.

More recently, full-time employment gains have moderated in 2018, increasing 36,400 year-over-year in April, while part-time work declined 13,400.

Chart 10 Employment  in British Columbia, by type

Data table for Chart 10
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10 Employment type, Full-time and Part-time, calculated using year-over-year change (thousands of persons) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Employment type
Full-time Part-time
year-over-year change (thousands of persons)
2007
January 59.2 22.9
February 76.0 -8.9
March 53.4 14.2
April 39.1 7.2
May 63.1 7.8
June 31.1 35.3
July 41.0 11.1
August 51.8 13.2
September 50.0 10.8
October 51.5 6.5
November 95.8 -16.6
December 37.7 26.3
2008
January 33.4 11.9
February 31.1 10.4
March 49.7 -8.8
April 40.4 17.5
May 23.9 18.6
June 55.8 -2.0
July 60.9 -7.1
August 24.5 20.4
September 13.5 24.1
October 25.5 -3.2
November -26.6 24.1
December 5.4 -18.9
2009
January -43.7 8.6
February -66.8 27.1
March -90.1 29.9
April -69.1 12.6
May -83.3 36.8
June -86.4 24.6
July -104.6 47.7
August -73.7 10.0
September -74.9 20.2
October -84.3 34.3
November -47.2 20.7
December -49.4 28.5
2010
January -17.7 21.5
February 31.2 -5.1
March 29.2 12.6
April 16.7 13.8
May 14.4 -1.5
June 25.3 1.7
July 6.6 34.5
August 24.4 25.4
September 10.9 16.3
October 15.4 25.6
November -4.7 44.7
December -8.8 37.8
2011
January 3.6 2.6
February -44.5 36.0
March -15.1 13.2
April -23.5 32.0
May 0.2 7.0
June -14.0 14.6
July 13.0 -26.0
August -27.2 8.3
September 22.0 -1.6
October 16.8 -1.1
November 28.1 -28.7
December 44.5 -25.6
2012
January 26.1 6.0
February 62.2 -23.5
March 43.1 -6.9
April 57.5 -13.6
May 47.9 -4.7
June 44.8 -4.3
July 46.6 -7.8
August 76.8 -21.0
September 52.1 -17.6
October 30.8 -6.9
November 35.9 -14.7
December 18.2 -9.6
2013
January 17.1 -14.6
February 20.8 -0.6
March -1.7 -4.5
April 2.7 -7.4
May 4.9 -0.2
June 22.1 -18.0
July 24.7 -17.8
August 6.5 -1.0
September -9.4 3.0
October 5.8 -11.4
November -1.4 -7.2
December -25.6 38.2
2014
January -3.7 30.4
February -18.9 21.8
March 3.3 22.4
April 7.8 3.3
May 6.1 7.5
June -10.5 24.5
July -4.0 15.2
August -15.5 9.0
September 4.7 3.4
October 14.5 -1.3
November 19.9 9.9
December 66.9 -52.7
2015
January 64.9 -50.0
February 46.1 -39.4
March 41.1 -33.6
April 5.6 -25.4
May 23.1 -8.8
June 51.5 -28.6
July 27.7 -0.6
August 57.8 -16.2
September 62.4 -12.1
October 68.3 1.3
November 48.7 17.5
December 26.3 31.2
2016
January 17.1 31.2
February 24.3 46.4
March 40.0 34.4
April 77.3 38.4
May 65.8 3.3
June 46.2 24.8
July 36.8 50.3
August 44.4 30.5
September 15.8 47.4
October 15.7 44.8
November 28.8 20.0
December 39.2 37.3
2017
January 58.9 27.6
February 96.1 -5.0
March 86.1 -0.6
April 67.1 17.2
May 67.3 36.1
June 75.8 32.9
July 96.1 -9.6
August 51.7 43.1
September 63.6 19.1
October 67.3 -6.5
November 79.9 11.8
December 67.0 8.8
2018
January 50.0 9.4
February -5.2 45.4
March 18.8 13.9

Throughout 2016 and 2017, higher employment in services was central to improvements in labour market conditions. As of December 2017, higher employment in services was responsible for over two thirds of the overall increase, as employment rose by 54,700 persons on a year-over-year basis for service providers and 21,300 for goods industries.

In December 2017, employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing rose 17,000 year-over-year and was responsible for about 30% of the employment gains in services. Employment for the industry had increased 20,100 in December 2016. Employment in construction rose by about 20,700 in the 12 months to December 2017, posting three annual consecutive gains and mainly responsible for the increase in goods employment. Taken together, finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing and construction were responsible for almost half of the total employment gains in December 2017. Health care and social assistance, professional, scientific and technical services also supported higher employment.

More recently, employment gains in services slowed in the first quarter of 2018.

Chart 11 Employment  in British Columbia, by sector

Data table for Chart 11
Data table for Chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 11 Goods-producing sector and Services-producing sector , calculated using year-over-year change (thousands of persons) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Goods-producing sector Services-producing sector
year-over-year change (thousands of persons)
2007
January 51.6 30.6
February 25.5 41.7
March 22.4 45.3
April 31.5 14.8
May 30.2 40.6
June 40.9 25.5
July 16.6 35.4
August 26.3 38.6
September 33.0 27.9
October 26.8 31.2
November 19.1 60.1
December 13.7 50.3
2008
January 6.1 39.1
February 12.8 28.7
March 8.6 32.3
April 3.7 54.0
May 2.5 40.0
June 2.3 51.5
July 13.1 40.9
August 11.0 34.0
September 1.1 36.6
October -2.3 24.7
November -8.9 6.4
December -8.4 -5.1
2009
January -31.4 -3.7
February -35.4 -4.4
March -42.9 -17.3
April -40.8 -15.6
May -41.9 -4.6
June -45.6 -16.3
July -51.9 -5.0
August -52.9 -10.8
September -40.6 -14.1
October -41.6 -8.5
November -44.8 18.3
December -48.1 27.1
2010
January -21.5 25.3
February -19.5 45.6
March -1.5 43.4
April -5.1 35.5
May -2.0 14.8
June 1.5 25.5
July 4.3 36.7
August 1.0 48.8
September -15.1 42.2
October -5.3 46.2
November 1.0 39.0
December 3.8 25.2
2011
January -9.3 15.4
February 2.5 -10.9
March -7.0 5.0
April 4.9 3.7
May -6.2 13.5
June -11.8 12.5
July -19.6 6.6
August -13.3 -5.6
September -0.3 20.7
October -3.9 19.7
November 0.5 -1.1
December 6.6 12.4
2012
January 13.4 18.8
February 5.3 33.4
March 3.4 32.7
April 3.5 40.3
May 5.9 37.4
June 12.4 28.0
July 22.2 16.6
August 18.1 37.7
September 9.9 24.5
October 15.0 8.8
November 9.8 11.4
December 2.6 6.0
2013
January 0.0 2.4
February 0.5 19.6
March -8.5 2.4
April -14.7 10.1
May -5.2 9.8
June -3.3 7.5
July 6.8 0.1
August 5.0 0.5
September 5.1 -11.4
October 3.9 -9.4
November 0.2 -8.8
December -0.8 13.4
2014
January 11.0 15.8
February 9.0 -6.1
March 18.4 7.2
April 15.3 -4.2
May 20.6 -6.9
June 14.9 -0.9
July 1.0 10.1
August 3.7 -10.3
September -2.7 10.8
October -2.9 16.1
November -4.0 33.8
December 8.5 5.6
2015
January 14.3 0.6
February 5.0 1.7
March 10.2 -2.5
April 5.9 -25.7
May 1.2 13.1
June -4.7 27.6
July -4.4 31.6
August 5.9 35.8
September 25.2 25.1
October 17.7 51.9
November 28.5 37.6
December 21.4 36.3
2016
January 1.2 47.1
February 16.4 54.3
March 12.0 62.3
April 21.7 93.9
May 14.0 55.0
June 15.6 55.4
July 24.4 62.7
August 10.4 64.5
September -6.2 69.3
October 8.3 52.2
November 6.2 42.7
December 5.8 70.5
2017
January 14.2 72.3
February 13.9 77.2
March 11.4 74.1
April 9.2 75.3
May 19.3 84.2
June 35.8 72.8
July 29.3 57.2
August 30.9 63.8
September 25.5 57.3
October 24.0 36.7
November 27.0 64.7
December 21.3 54.7
2018
January 32.6 26.9
February 23.2 17.0
March 20.3 12.4

Immigrants in Vancouver contributed to the growing labour force

Following moderate growth in 2014 and 2015, British Columbia’s labour force population expanded by 74,700 persons in 2016 and 68,400 persons in 2017, to reach 2.6 million. Immigrants accounted for about half of the overall increase in the labour force population in 2016, particularly those living in Vancouver. These trends were consistent with patterns observed at the national level. The bulk of the 2017 increase in British Columbia stemmed from persons born in Canada and immigrants who landed in Canada over 10 years ago.Note 4

In 2016 and 2017, labour force participation rates, the share of those aged 15 and over who are working or actively looking for work, generally increased among immigrants and among those born in Canada. The participation rate for core-aged individuals born in Canada increased from 87.1% in December 2015 to 89.4% in December 2017. Labour force participation also increased for core-aged recent immigrants, those who landed in Canada five years or less from the reference period, rising from 73.1% in December 2015 to 80.2% in December 2017, effectively narrowing the gap in employment rates with core-aged persons born in Canada. Immigrants who have recently landed in Canada typically have the lowest employment rates, when compared with immigrants who have lived in Canada for longer periods of time or those who are Canadian‑born. Correspondingly, employment rates for core-aged landed immigrants and core-aged persons born in Canada increased during the same period, while unemployment rates declined, reflecting strengthening economic and labour market conditions in British Columbia.

Earnings growth accelerated in 2017

In 2017, the pace of earnings growth accelerated in British Columbia, rising at a faster rate than the national average. Year-over-year, average weekly earnings in British Columbia rose 2.5% in 2017, while they increased 2.0% nationally. Growth accelerated in the fourth quarter, increasing 1.1% when compared to the third quarter.

Prior to the upward trend in 2017, the pace of earnings growth in British Columbia had moderated from 2014 to 2016.

While earnings growth in service industries increased at a faster pace than for goods producers on an annual basis from 2014 to 2016, the opposite held in 2017. Earnings in goods industries rose 2.8% in 2017, reflecting gains for mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, utilities, construction.

Chart 12 Average  weekly earnings in British Columbia, selected industries

Data table for Chart 12
Data table for Chart 12
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 12 Aggregate, Goods-producing industries and Service-producing industries, calculated using index (Q1 2007 = 100)
units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Aggregate Goods-producing industries Service-producing industries
index (Q1 2007 = 100)
2007
First quarter 100.0 100.0 100.0
Second quarter 101.3 102.7 101.2
Third quarter 102.1 102.8 102.1
Fourth quarter 102.8 104.0 102.6
2008
First quarter 103.2 104.0 103.0
Second quarter 104.0 105.6 103.9
Third quarter 104.6 106.4 104.5
Fourth quarter 104.5 106.6 104.4
2009
First quarter 104.4 105.0 105.0
Second quarter 104.4 104.6 105.3
Third quarter 105.1 104.0 106.4
Fourth quarter 106.2 104.8 107.4
2010
First quarter 106.3 106.5 107.3
Second quarter 107.5 106.8 108.6
Third quarter 109.2 108.7 110.2
Fourth quarter 109.2 108.3 110.3
2011
First quarter 110.3 110.0 111.3
Second quarter 111.1 110.1 112.2
Third quarter 110.9 110.8 111.6
Fourth quarter 112.1 113.4 112.4
2012
First quarter 113.2 114.6 113.7
Second quarter 113.8 115.5 114.2
Third quarter 115.3 116.7 115.5
Fourth quarter 115.2 116.3 115.7
2013
First quarter 114.8 116.2 115.2
Second quarter 115.4 118.5 115.3
Third quarter 115.4 119.2 115.1
Fourth quarter 116.8 121.2 116.6
2014
First quarter 117.7 119.9 118.0
Second quarter 118.1 121.3 118.1
Third quarter 118.9 122.6 118.6
Fourth quarter 118.8 122.0 119.1
2015
First quarter 120.2 121.9 120.5
Second quarter 119.5 122.0 119.6
Third quarter 120.6 121.2 121.1
Fourth quarter 120.7 122.6 121.4
2016
First quarter 120.4 121.4 121.0
Second quarter 121.7 122.2 122.5
Third quarter 121.4 122.8 121.8
Fourth quarter 122.2 123.9 123.0
2017
First quarter 123.1 125.9 123.1
Second quarter 124.2 124.8 125.0
Third quarter 124.7 125.4 125.1
Fourth quarter 126.0 128.1 126.7

Trade deficit narrowed in 2017 on higher energy and forestry exports

British Columbia’s trade deficit narrowed in 2016 and 2017, to $8.4 billion in 2017.Note 5 Higher surpluses for energy products contributed to lower deficits, as exports of energy products rose 45.4% in 2017, partly reflecting higher prices. To a lesser extent, higher surpluses for forestry products, building and packaging materials contributed to the narrowing trade deficit, reflecting a 3.4% increase in exports in 2017. The trade deficit for consumer goods, the province’s main import, widened moderately in both years.

British Columbia is one of Canada’s least trade intensive provinces. In 2016, the sum of total imports and exports to other countries for the province represented about 50% of total GDP, compared with about 70% for Ontario, or about 60% for Quebec and Alberta. However, British Columbia’s trading partnerships are relatively more diverse, with 50% of their exports destined to the United States, compared with over 80% for Ontario and Alberta. Softwood lumber is one of the province’s main exports, mainly destined to the United States and to Asia. Coal and copper ore and concentrates shipments to Asia and natural gas exports to the United States also contribute to overall export flows.

Chart 13 Trade  Balance for British Columbia, total and selected commodities

Data table for Chart 13
Data table for Chart 13
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 13. The information is grouped by Total and selected commodities (appearing as row headers), 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, calculated using millions of dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total and selected commodities 2014 2015 2016 2017
millions of dollars
Total of all merchandise -10,874 -13,323 -10,015 -8,369
Energy products 5,067 3,763 5,620 9,188
Metal ores and non-metallic minerals 2,311 1,915 1,122 977
Metal and non-metallic mineral products -1,668 -1,546 -268 -4
Forestry products and building and packaging materials 9,183 9,474 10,328 10,725
Industrial machinery, equipment and parts -3,954 -3,530 -3,434 -3,921
Electronic and electrical equipment and parts -3,806 -3,885 -4,190 -4,559
Motor vehicles and parts -3,756 -3,937 -3,285 -3,643
Consumer goods -10,951 -12,144 -12,176 -12,483

Growth in retail spending in Vancouver accelerated in second half of 2017

Retail sales in British Columbia rose 9.3% in 2017, following an increase of 7.7% in 2016. While the pace of spending moderated in the second half of 2017, it remained at a very high level, over 30% higher than in the first half of 2014.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers contributed to almost one third of the provincial gains in 2017, as sales increased 11.7%, reflecting gains at new car dealers. Higher prices contributed to an increase in sales at gasoline stations, up 18.8%, while sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 33.0%.

Higher sales in Vancouver accounted for over one third of the provincial gain in 2017. Retail sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 8.7%, contributing to the overall advance in Vancouver.  Gains at food and beverage stores, gasoline stations and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers also contributed to the overall gains in 2017.  In line with provincial trends, retail spending in Vancouver accelerated notably in early 2017, as spending increased 3.3% in the first quarter of 2017, slowed in the second quarter and then accelerated again in the second half of the year.

More recently, retail sales in Vancouver edged lower, declining in January and February of 2018.

Chart 14 Retail sales in British Columbia and  Vancouver

Data table for Chart 14
Data table for Chart 14
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 14 British Columbia and Vancouver, calculated using index (January 2007 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
British Columbia Vancouver
index (January 2007 = 100)
2007
January 100.0 100.0
February 101.1 101.2
March 102.1 101.4
April 103.0 102.5
May 103.0 101.7
June 103.0 101.2
July 104.0 103.3
August 104.5 102.9
September 104.5 103.3
October 102.8 102.8
November 105.3 104.5
December 107.4 106.4
2008
January 107.2 106.9
February 105.6 104.9
March 106.5 105.5
April 106.0 105.2
May 105.9 105.2
June 108.0 106.7
July 107.3 105.1
August 106.7 105.6
September 106.1 105.4
October 103.5 103.4
November 101.0 100.6
December 95.4 95.0
2009
January 98.7 99.5
February 97.1 97.2
March 95.6 96.7
April 97.7 99.2
May 98.9 99.9
June 100.3 101.4
July 100.4 102.7
August 101.0 103.8
September 102.5 104.4
October 103.2 105.5
November 103.4 105.8
December 105.9 109.1
2010
January 106.2 108.1
February 105.5 106.6
March 105.1 106.6
April 105.4 105.6
May 105.5 107.0
June 105.7 106.8
July 105.4 106.4
August 105.3 105.9
September 105.8 106.8
October 105.7 106.4
November 107.6 107.8
December 106.0 106.3
2011
January 105.1 106.3
February 106.3 108.1
March 107.9 109.4
April 110.0 112.0
May 108.4 108.6
June 109.5 110.4
July 108.7 109.4
August 109.4 110.1
September 110.6 111.4
October 111.7 112.5
November 111.0 112.1
December 110.9 111.7
2012
January 111.1 113.8
February 112.2 114.3
March 112.1 114.8
April 111.7 114.8
May 112.3 115.2
June 110.5 115.3
July 110.9 113.3
August 110.4 112.9
September 110.0 112.1
October 111.3 113.3
November 110.2 112.5
December 111.1 112.9
2013
January 112.7 113.3
February 112.0 112.5
March 113.8 115.1
April 111.6 113.1
May 113.1 113.9
June 113.2 114.2
July 114.9 116.2
August 115.8 117.1
September 115.4 117.0
October 115.9 117.7
November 116.3 117.7
December 117.0 119.3
2014
January 117.5 119.3
February 116.0 118.1
March 119.1 121.4
April 120.2 121.8
May 120.1 123.0
June 122.4 123.8
July 123.1 125.1
August 123.0 126.9
September 123.5 127.0
October 122.9 126.1
November 125.3 128.4
December 124.9 129.0
2015
January 122.5 128.0
February 128.9 136.2
March 127.8 134.2
April 127.5 134.1
May 129.0 137.4
June 130.8 139.6
July 130.1 138.6
August 132.0 139.2
September 132.7 141.4
October 130.7 138.8
November 134.5 143.9
December 133.7 144.0
2016
January 136.8 146.3
February 139.5 149.4
March 136.8 147.5
April 139.3 148.7
May 138.8 149.5
June 138.1 147.7
July 139.2 149.6
August 140.1 150.5
September 141.7 151.1
October 143.4 153.3
November 143.4 153.3
December 142.9 150.8
2017
January 152.6 160.0
February 146.8 156.1
March 148.9 156.2
April 149.6 158.2
May 151.7 156.2
June 153.5 160.7
July 154.1 161.9
August 153.4 161.2
September 154.5 162.7
October 159.4 168.1
November 156.9 164.5
December 155.2 161.8
2018
January 154.8 161.0
February 155.5 159.1

Home prices in Vancouver accelerated into late 2017

Home price inflation, measured year-over-year, accelerated in Greater Vancouver in the second half of 2017, after a deceleration in late 2016. Based on estimates from the Multiple Listing Service Home Price Index (MLS HPI)Note 6, home prices slowed in late-2016, following the introduction of an additional property transfer tax rate of 15% to residential real estate in Metro Vancouver for foreign nationals and foreign-controlled corporations, which took effect in August 2016. Home prices slowed in the first half of 2017, decelerating to 7.9% in June 2017. More recently, the pace of growth has picked up again, with prices up 15.9% in December 2017 and 16.1% in March 2018.

Home prices in the Fraser Valley have generally tracked those in the Vancouver housing market. Home prices slowed moderately in the fall of 2016 and until mid-2017 . Since then, home prices have picked up, increasing 20.9% in December 2017 and further, by 24.4% in March 2018.

In Victoria, the increase in home prices has been more moderate than in the Vancouver housing market. The pace of growth accelerated in 2016, reaching 19.3% in December 2016. Since then, home prices have slowed, increasing 14.2% in December 2017 and 14.6% in March 2018.

In 2017, the continued acceleration of home prices in Vancouver has partly offset slower price growth observed in other census metropolitan areas. Prices in Toronto have decelerated sharply since the summer months and have continued to generally trend lower in Calgary, as they have since early 2015. For an analysis of differences in the type of residential assets and the value of assets owned by non-residents and residents in the Toronto and Vancouver housing markets, refer to Gellatly and Morissette (2017).

Chart 15 Housing  starts for British Columbia, by type of unit, quarterly average (seasonally  adjusted at annual rates)

Data table for Chart 15
Data table for Chart 15
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 15 Aggregate, Greater Vancouver, Victoria and Fraser Valley, calculated using index (January 2005 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Aggregate Greater Vancouver Victoria Fraser Valley
index (January 2005 = 100)
2005
January 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
February 101.0 100.6 102.0 100.5
March 102.0 101.2 104.1 100.9
April 103.0 101.7 106.2 101.4
May 103.8 103.2 108.4 102.4
June 104.5 104.7 110.6 103.5
July 105.1 106.2 112.1 104.8
August 105.8 107.5 113.7 106.1
September 106.7 109.3 115.2 107.4
October 107.3 110.0 115.7 108.5
November 107.8 110.8 116.1 109.6
December 108.3 111.7 116.6 110.7
2006
January 109.8 113.8 118.9 112.7
February 111.7 116.2 121.2 114.8
March 113.9 118.3 123.6 116.8
April 116.2 120.8 124.8 119.4
May 118.8 123.3 125.9 122.0
June 120.9 125.3 127.0 124.7
July 122.5 126.3 127.3 126.3
August 123.9 127.3 127.5 128.0
September 125.1 128.2 127.8 129.8
October 125.6 128.3 127.6 130.1
November 126.0 128.4 127.4 130.4
December 126.1 128.2 127.2 130.7
2007
January 127.6 130.0 129.4 132.0
February 129.6 131.4 131.7 133.3
March 131.9 132.8 134.0 134.6
April 134.1 134.8 135.5 136.0
May 136.3 136.7 137.0 137.4
June 138.1 138.5 138.5 138.7
July 138.8 139.7 139.9 139.5
August 139.3 141.0 141.3 140.2
September 139.5 142.1 142.6 140.9
October 139.5 142.8 143.5 141.0
November 139.2 143.5 144.3 141.1
December 139.2 144.0 145.1 141.2
2008
January 139.8 145.2 146.3 142.2
February 141.1 146.8 148.5 143.2
March 142.2 148.1 149.9 144.2
April 142.7 148.7 151.1 144.2
May 142.8 149.0 151.3 144.3
June 142.4 149.5 151.0 144.5
July 141.4 147.0 150.5 143.4
August 140.5 145.3 149.2 142.3
September 139.3 143.4 147.8 141.2
October 137.7 139.5 145.7 138.6
November 135.8 135.6 142.9 136.1
December 133.6 131.8 139.4 133.6
2009
January 132.2 131.0 137.2 132.0
February 131.3 130.0 136.6 130.4
March 131.1 129.1 137.1 128.9
April 131.8 130.8 138.6 129.4
May 133.1 132.6 140.2 129.8
June 134.3 134.5 141.7 130.3
July 135.8 136.8 143.2 131.6
August 137.2 139.1 144.2 132.9
September 138.6 141.6 145.7 134.2
October 139.8 142.8 146.9 135.0
November 140.9 144.7 147.8 135.8
December 141.7 146.3 149.0 136.6
2010
January 143.1 147.9 151.0 138.1
February 145.1 149.6 152.7 139.3
March 146.6 151.2 153.5 140.2
April 147.8 152.4 153.9 141.1
May 148.2 152.2 154.0 141.6
June 147.8 151.5 153.2 141.5
July 147.0 150.1 151.6 140.5
August 146.4 149.3 150.1 139.6
September 146.1 148.7 148.7 139.0
October 146.0 148.4 148.3 138.4
November 146.0 148.7 147.9 138.2
December 146.9 148.6 146.8 137.3
2011
January 147.7 150.1 147.2 138.0
February 149.2 151.6 148.2 137.9
March 150.8 154.4 149.6 140.0
April 152.3 157.7 150.6 141.6
May 153.4 159.3 150.6 142.4
June 153.9 160.5 150.7 142.8
July 154.4 161.1 149.2 143.1
August 154.5 161.2 147.9 142.8
September 154.5 160.8 146.6 142.9
October 154.6 160.2 145.7 142.7
November 154.3 159.7 145.3 142.5
December 153.7 159.0 145.3 142.3
2012
January 154.1 159.1 145.2 142.1
February 155.6 160.8 144.3 143.3
March 157.5 162.6 144.3 144.1
April 158.9 163.8 145.1 145.0
May 159.9 164.5 145.5 145.6
June 160.4 163.2 145.9 145.8
July 160.0 162.0 144.5 146.0
August 159.1 160.3 143.8 146.0
September 158.9 159.4 142.6 145.5
October 158.5 158.7 142.3 144.2
November 158.1 157.4 140.8 144.1
December 157.6 155.9 140.0 142.5
2013
January 157.5 155.2 138.7 142.3
February 158.7 155.8 138.5 143.0
March 160.3 156.5 139.4 143.9
April 161.8 157.7 140.2 144.8
May 163.0 157.7 140.5 144.6
June 163.5 158.6 140.0 144.8
July 163.6 158.7 139.9 144.6
August 163.8 158.6 138.8 145.1
September 164.0 158.7 138.4 144.8
October 164.4 158.6 139.0 143.9
November 164.8 159.3 137.5 143.0
December 164.6 159.2 136.7 142.5
2014
January 165.5 160.2 136.9 143.6
February 167.1 161.0 137.7 144.9
March 168.8 162.6 140.0 146.0
April 170.3 163.5 140.2 146.3
May 171.7 165.0 140.9 146.5
June 172.7 165.9 141.4 146.8
July 172.9 166.0 141.7 146.4
August 173.0 166.6 140.6 147.0
September 173.3 167.1 140.7 146.9
October 173.9 168.1 140.4 147.6
November 174.0 168.2 140.5 147.7
December 174.1 168.6 140.2 147.2
2015
January 174.5 169.4 141.8 147.1
February 175.9 171.6 141.6 149.1
March 177.6 174.6 143.9 150.6
April 179.3 177.7 145.6 152.0
May 180.8 180.8 147.6 153.6
June 181.9 183.2 147.9 154.8
July 182.8 185.0 148.6 156.8
August 183.1 187.1 148.4 158.2
September 184.1 190.6 149.4 160.4
October 184.7 193.9 150.3 162.8
November 185.6 198.2 150.4 165.2
December 185.8 200.6 151.5 167.1
2016
January 187.0 204.5 152.3 170.8
February 189.7 210.5 155.3 176.9
March 192.9 216.2 159.8 183.3
April 196.9 223.8 163.5 190.2
May 202.2 234.9 167.6 200.9
June 205.6 242.0 170.8 208.1
July 207.6 245.2 174.1 214.2
August 209.0 246.0 176.1 217.2
September 210.1 244.5 177.5 216.1
October 211.3 242.5 179.1 215.6
November 211.9 240.0 179.9 214.7
December 212.4 237.0 180.8 213.3
2017
January 214.3 236.8 182.8 214.0
February 218.3 239.7 186.2 215.7
March 226.0 244.0 189.6 219.8
April 232.8 249.8 193.6 225.6
May 235.6 256.5 198.9 232.3
June 235.9 261.1 201.7 237.0
July 232.5 266.5 205.1 245.9
August 230.7 269.2 204.8 249.3
September 230.5 271.2 204.8 251.2
October 230.4 272.5 204.7 253.0
November 230.0 273.7 205.2 254.5
December 230.1 274.6 206.5 257.9
2018
January 230.8 276.2 209.0 262.0
February 233.7 280.2 212.1 267.7
March 236.4 283.4 217.3 273.4

Housing starts picked up in mid-2017 on new apartments

Housing starts in British Columbia have increased every year since the 2008-2009 recession, advancing notably in 2016. Higher starts in Vancouver and for multi-family dwellings, particularly for apartments, led the growth from 2014 to 2016. Following the introduction of the additional property transfer tax in August 2016, housing starts declined in the fourth quarter of 2016 and in the first quarter of 2017. As with home prices, housing starts rebounded in mid-2017 following a slowdown, reflecting stronger homebuilding activity in Vancouver and higher apartment construction. More recently, housing starts have accelerated again in the fourth quarter of 2017, reaching a new high of 49,447 units, before slowing in the first quarter of 2018.

Investment in new housing construction slowed substantially in mid-2017, following an acceleration during most of 2016. Similar to the rebound observed in home prices and housing starts, investment in new housing construction has picked up again, increasing 9.0% year-over-year in December 2017 and 17.5% in February 2018.

Chart 16 Multiple listing service home price index, selected cities

Data table for Chart 16
Data table for Chart 16
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 16 Total units, Single-detached units, Semi-detached units, Row units and Apartment and other unit types, calculated using units x 1,000 units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Total units Single-detached units Semi-detached units Row units Apartment and other unit types
units x 1,000
2007
First quarter 31.189 10.048 1.661 3.192 16.288
Second quarter 33.975 10.713 1.63 4.348 17.284
Third quarter 34.896 10.161 1.302 4.076 19.356
Fourth quarter 37.431 11.215 1.416 4.064 20.736
2008
First quarter 35.656 10.237 2.023 3.8 19.596
Second quarter 34.316 9.15 1.406 3.136 20.624
Third quarter 32.065 8.566 1.675 3.788 18.036
Fourth quarter 21.452 5.919 0.917 2.784 11.832
2009
First quarter 10.909 3.22 0.701 1.524 5.464
Second quarter 10.524 4.663 0.76 1.824 3.276
Third quarter 14.91 6.759 1.019 2.428 4.704
Fourth quarter 18.402 9.39 1.188 2.768 5.056
2010
First quarter 24.32 11.371 1.409 2.228 9.312
Second quarter 23.414 10.145 1.365 3.008 8.896
Third quarter 23.698 8.437 1.313 3.696 10.252
Fourth quarter 23.413 7.341 1.124 3.976 10.972
2011
First quarter 22.193 6.15 0.987 2.936 12.12
Second quarter 24.245 7.349 1.04 4.116 11.74
Third quarter 26.036 7.5 0.968 3.72 13.848
Fourth quarter 24.589 7.094 0.919 3.568 13.008
2012
First quarter 25.267 6.881 1.002 3.136 14.248
Second quarter 27.51 6.991 1.016 3.516 15.988
Third quarter 26.521 6.694 0.907 2.78 16.14
Fourth quarter 22.652 6.321 0.986 2.952 12.392
2013
First quarter 22.126 7.188 1.026 2.66 11.252
Second quarter 24.613 6.727 0.974 2.98 13.932
Third quarter 28.926 7.349 1.013 3.26 17.304
Fourth quarter 27.088 7.761 1.127 3.392 14.808
2014
First quarter 23.950 7.667 1.083 2.800 12.400
Second quarter 26.658 8.113 1.190 3.424 13.932
Third quarter 29.442 8.441 1.377 3.712 15.912
Fourth quarter 26.795 9.014 1.481 4.084 12.216
2015
First quarter 26.726 8.906 1.491 3.084 13.244
Second quarter 31.645 8.947 1.242 3.388 18.068
Third quarter 29.786 8.652 0.962 4.200 15.972
Fourth quarter 31.640 9.014 1.027 4.032 17.568
2016
First quarter 40.562 11.008 1.234 3.960 24.360
Second quarter 42.228 9.798 1.194 4.876 26.360
Third quarter 39.454 10.468 1.266 4.928 22.792
Fourth quarter 35.941 9.794 0.887 4.428 20.832
2017
First quarter 33.050 9.329 0.766 3.252 19.704
Second quarter 42.379 10.847 0.884 4.908 25.740
Third quarter 39.489 10.338 1.127 4.864 23.160
Fourth quarter 49.447 10.993 1.382 5.776 31.296
2018
First quarter 39.962 9.834 1.000 4.252 24.876

Headline inflation accelerated in Vancouver in the second half of 2017

Consumer price inflation, measured year-over-year, accelerated from mid-2015 until early 2016 in British Columbia, similar to trends at the national level. In 2017, inflation for the province averaged 2.1%, as higher prices for gasoline and shelter were moderated by other items.

In Vancouver, consumer price inflation picked up in the second half of 2017, as inflation rose from 1.8% in June 2017 to 2.5% in December 2017, reflecting a notable acceleration in the cost of shelter, mainly owned accommodation. More recently, overall inflation in the province continued to increase, up 3.2% in March 2018. During this period, inflation for owned accommodation accelerated.

Chart 17 Consumer  price index for British Columbia, selected aggregates

Data table for Chart 17
Data table for Chart 17
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 17 Selected aggregates, All-items and Shelter , calculated using year-over-year change (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Selected aggregates
All-items Shelter
year-over-year change (percent)
2007
January 2.3 2.2
February 2.2 2.0
March 2.1 1.9
April 1.9 1.5
May 1.7 1.5
June 1.5 2.0
July 1.6 2.1
August 1.3 2.1
September 1.9 1.9
October 1.6 1.9
November 1.3 2.3
December 1.2 2.4
2008
January 0.8 2.5
February 1.1 2.5
March 1.2 2.6
April 1.7 3.5
May 2.1 3.7
June 3.0 3.4
July 3.3 4.1
August 3.3 4.0
September 3.3 3.8
October 2.5 3.1
November 2.0 2.4
December 1.2 1.9
2009
January 1.4 1.8
February 1.5 1.3
March 1.1 0.3
April 0.3 -1.0
May 0.1 -1.4
June -0.7 -2.2
July -1.6 -4.1
August -1.1 -3.4
September -1.2 -3.6
October -0.6 -3.2
November 0.1 -3.0
December 0.4 -3.1
2010
January 0.7 -2.4
February 1.2 -2.4
March 0.5 -1.5
April 1.0 0.2
May 0.6 0.7
June 0.5 1.6
July 2.0 2.8
August 1.5 1.8
September 1.6 1.7
October 2.4 2.2
November 2.2 2.4
December 2.4 2.6
2011
January 2.3 1.9
February 1.8 2.1
March 3.1 1.9
April 2.7 1.0
May 3.1 0.9
June 2.7 0.9
July 1.7 1.0
August 2.1 1.1
September 2.4 1.1
October 2.3 0.4
November 2.3 0.4
December 1.7 0.4
2012
January 1.7 0.4
February 1.7 0.3
March 1.6 0.4
April 1.6 0.4
May 1.3 0.0
June 1.5 -0.3
July 1.1 -0.7
August 1.0 -0.7
September 0.7 -0.5
October 0.5 -0.3
November 0.1 -0.3
December 0.4 -0.6
2013
January 0.3 -0.7
February 0.9 -0.6
March 0.5 -0.6
April -0.8 -1.1
May -0.6 -0.9
June -0.5 -0.8
July 0.0 -0.8
August -0.1 -0.6
September 0.0 -0.5
October -0.3 -0.8
November -0.2 -0.7
December 0.0 -0.4
2014
January 0.0 -0.1
February -0.3 -0.1
March 0.1 -0.1
April 1.5 1.4
May 1.5 1.1
June 1.9 1.1
July 1.4 1.1
August 1.4 1.0
September 1.2 1.1
October 1.1 0.8
November 1.2 0.8
December 0.9 0.8
2015
January 0.8 0.4
February 0.8 0.4
March 1.0 0.4
April 0.5 -1.0
May 0.8 -0.5
June 0.8 -0.5
July 1.0 -0.5
August 1.2 -0.3
September 1.3 -0.4
October 1.3 0.3
November 1.7 0.3
December 1.9 0.4
2016
January 2.3 0.4
February 1.6 0.4
March 1.7 0.6
April 1.8 1.1
May 1.7 1.1
June 2.0 1.7
July 2.1 1.6
August 2.0 1.7
September 1.8 1.7
October 2.1 2.1
November 1.6 2.3
December 1.9 2.2
2017
January 2.3 2.4
February 2.3 2.3
March 2.0 2.2
April 2.1 2.3
May 1.9 2.2
June 1.7 2.2
July 1.9 2.6
August 2.0 2.9
September 2.0 3.1
October 2.0 3.0
November 2.6 3.0
December 2.0 3.1
2018
January 2.1 3.2
February 2.8 3.5
March 2.6 3.5

Summary

From 2014 to 2016, British Columbia’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in a decade, topping growth among Canadian provinces in 2015 and 2016. Real estate and residential construction contributed to about one third of economic growth in 2015 and 2016. On an expenditure basis, household spending accounted for more than half of the growth, while non-residential business investment contracted. Growth was more narrowly-based than in the mid-2000s, the province’s last period of fast-paced expansion.

The pace of growth for the province accelerated in 2017, reaching 3.9% and broadening, as transportation and warehousing and wholesale trade made a stronger contribution to growth, while the contribution of real estate and residential construction moderated.

Economic strength coincided with improved labour market conditions in British Columbia, as employment rose for full-time work and among core-aged workers in 2017. Supported by strengthening labour markets in Vancouver and other local economies, on average, the provincial unemployment rate declined to the lowest level among the provinces in 2016 and 2017. In addition to supporting output, industries related to real estate and residential construction also made an important contribution to higher employment gains. Earnings growth accelerated in British Columbia in 2017, increasing at a faster pace than at the national level.

Following the introduction of an additional property transfer tax for foreign nationals and foreign-controlled corporations in Metro Vancouver, housing market activity slowed in early 2017, but rebounded later in the year.  Renewed strength in housing starts and home prices is reflected in rising shelter costs in the second half of 2017.

References

Canadian Real Estate Association. 2016. MLS Home Price Index Methodology. Version 2.1. 24 p. Available at: https://www.crea.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/HPI_Methodology.pdf (accessed May 1, 2018).

Gellatly, G., and R. Morissette. 2017. Non-resident Ownership of Residential Properties in Toronto and Vancouver: Initial data from the Canadian Housing Statistics Program. Economic Insights, no. 78. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-626-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Gellatly, G. and Richards, E. 2018. Recent Developments in the Canadian economy: Spring 2018. Economic Insights, no. 80. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-626-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Richards, E., and G. Gellatly. 2018. Recent Developments in the Canadian economy: Chartbook. A presentation series from Statistics Canada about the economy, environment and society. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-631-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Notes


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