Southwest BC economy trends positive
The Mainland/Southwest Development Region (Southwest BC) enjoyed a stunning year of economic growth in 2016, due to the following:
1. Southwest BC’s vibrant service sector helped pushed employment to a record of 1.54 million positions in 2016. The majority of these new jobs were created in the region’s service sector. Visitors are a major source of retail and service activity, and the number of international travellers to BC increased by 10.8% in 2016.
2. Southwest BC’s population grew by 1.6% to reach 2.93 million residents. Continued population growth and demand for housing also propelled employment in several service industries, adding over 18,000 jobs. In 2016, over half of the 46,463 new Southwest BC residents came from outside the country. This contributed to a hot housing market, and bolstered Southwest BC’s consumer demand and retail employment.
3. The hot housing market also led to a creation of 7,700 jobs in the construction industry. This was the largest increase in five years, and it was largely driven by activity in the residential and non-residential commercial sector. Housing starts in 2016 set a new record for the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), with strong rental and condo construction in Vancouver, New Westminster, and Surrey.
Southwest BC’s economy should continue to grow in 2017, having diversified its economy and seen inroads in various service industries, including technology and advanced manufacturing. Our relatively low Canadian dollar compared to the US dollar should continue to bolster the tourism and film industries in the province. These factors, along with a growing tech sector, will continue to drive employment demand in the service sector.