The geographical areas that CPABC’s Prince George and Peace Region Chapter’s covers spans into two development regions: the Cariboo Development Region and the Northeast Development Region (Northeast BC). Dependent on the resource sector, both the Northeast BC and Cariboo economies were met with challenges in 2016, due to the continued suppression of commodity prices:
1. The Cariboo Development Region lost a total of 600 jobs, driving unemployment up to 7.4%. Northeast BC lost a total of 1,000 jobs, driving unemployment to 9.7%, its highest rate in at least 15 years.
2. The value of major projects in the Cariboo and Northeast BC declined by 7.8% to $10.7 billion and by 0.6% to $36.8 billion respectively between the third quarters of 2015 and 2016.
3. As a result of increased unemployment and slower economic activity, consumer insolvencies increased in both regions. The Cariboo’s consumer insolvency rate increased by 4.9% to 4.3 per 1,000 adults. While in the Northeast BC, consumer insolvency jumped 85.7% to 3.9 per 1,000 adults, signalling the impact that the economic downturn in the region had on residents.
Towards the latter half of 2016, coal and copper prices picked up, which helped the economies in the Cariboo and Northeast BC. Increased demand for forestry-related products also generated some economic activity. As a result, both regions saw an increase in the number of fishing, forestry, mining, and oil and gas jobs in 2016.
However, looking ahead into 2017, the US tariff on softwood lumber, uncertainty surrounding natural gas prices and the future of proposed energy projects, and ongoing trade negotiations will impact the economy. These factors will likely dampen the economic outlook of these regions into the foreseeable future.