Environmental Scan - British Columbia
- The average wage across all sectors of British Columbia's economy was $32.57/hr in 2022, an increase of $1.29/hr from 2021.
In 2022, British Columbia had the second highest proportion of recent immigrants in Canada, with Vancouver attracting large numbers of immigrants from the Asia-Pacific region. Metro Vancouver is home to a disproportionate number of landed immigrants with over three quarters of B.C's immigrant population calling the region home.
In 2022, 24.7% of British Columbians aged 15 and over identified as persons with disabilities. The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability revealed wide differences in income and employment outcomes of those persons with disabilities when compared with the rest of the population. Persons with disabilities in British Columbia had an average unemployment rate of 8.4% compared to persons without disabilities at 4.5%.
Labour Market Conditions
Employment grew marginally (+3.2%)
Unemployment decreased sharply (-29.2%)
Participation rate fell (65.6% to 65.1%)
Employment rate increased (61.2% to 62.1%)
British Columbia Unemployment Rate
- British Columbia continued its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2022 with the number of unemployed persons in the province decreasing significantly (-54,900 or -29.2%).
- British Columbia's labour market remained tight throughout most of 2022 with the labour force growing only 1.0% in 2022 compared to an average of 1.6% per year over the last decade. Businesses are experiencing worker shortages across a number of sectors. Despite shortages, employment growth was subdued in the fourth quarter of 2022 at 0.1%.
British Columbia's Economic Drivers in 2022
Tight Labour Market
- Tourism plays a significant role in British Columbia's economy as the province is a major destination for international and domestic tourists alike. The province's tourism businesses rebounded sharply in 2022 following the pronounced impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Increasing interest rates in Canada, as the Bank of Canada implemented rate hikes to curb inflation, have begun to slow the economy.
- British Columbia continues to have an elevated job vacancy rate compared to the rest of Canada. However, employers may begin to reduce hiring as economic conditions cool.
- British Columbia's forestry sector is experiencing increased curtailments, both temporary and permanent, as companies react to lower wood prices and a reduced fibre supply. Layoffs have a disproportionate effect on smaller communities that rely heavily on this sector.
- Real GDP growth in British Columbia is expected to slow as housing values are expected to decrease in the coming years. Nevertheless, GDP growth is forecast to remain positive.
Risks to the British Columbia Economy in 2023
- Increasing interest rates will have a cooling effect on the economy as debt servicing increases and available investment funds decrease. British Columbia's consumer price index increased 6.2pp between January 2022 and January 2023.
- A large decline in the real estate market could begin to influence the performance of other sectors, as British Columbia has traditionally had one of Canada's most expensive (and profitable) real estate markets.
- A tight labour market will continue to present challenges to business growth in 2023. A lack of workers in key sectors may result in higher prices as demands on a limited labour pool remain high.
British Columbia continues to be a destination for interprovincial migrants, in 2021/2022 the province recorded the second highest number of in-migrants in Canada. In total, 70,788 people relocated to British Columbia from another province in 2021/2022, a 19.3% increase from 2020/2021.
Net interprovincial migration to the province was 15,869 in 2021/2022, a 37.5% decrease from 2020/2021. Despite a massive surge in interprovincial migrants across the country, in part due to the effects and repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of residents left for other parts of Canada.
Show data table
|Industry (NAICS)||Employment Growth ('000s)|
|Wholesale and retail trade||32.2|
|Information, culture and recreation||17.6|
|Health care and social assistance||17.2|
|Professional, scientific and technical services||13.5|
|Accommodation and food services||6.9|
|Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas||-0.2|
|Transportation and warehousing||-3.5|
|Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing||-7.0|
|Other services (except public administration)||-7.5|
|Business, building and other support services||-9.3|
- Employment gains were recorded in the majority of industries in British Columbia in 2022.
- As a result of employment losses and mill curtailments in Forestry, the Government of British Columbia is increasing supports for forestry businesses. The province has announced significant funds to encourage high value manufacturing from wood products.
- Wholesale and retail trade saw large gains in employment in 2022 after significant layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this sector still remains vulnerable to a recession as inflationary pressures decrease the average consumer's disposable income.
- British Columbia's construction sector remains resilient with a number of large projects underway across the province. Projects such as Site C dam, Transmountain Pipeline, Coastal Gaslink and the Broadway Subway Expansion continue to drive employment growth.
Regional Economic Conditions
- The majority of British Columbia's economic regions recorded employment growth in 2022.
- The province's cosmopolitan regions were most resilient to economic downturn, driving employment growth post-pandemic.
- Rural economic regions struggled, as these areas tend to have fewer job opportunities and less diverse economies that rely more heavily on commodities that fluctuate in price.
Employment Growth by Economic Region, 2022
Show data table
|Economic Region||Employment Growth (%)|
|Vancouver Island and Coast||4.7|
|North Coast and Nechako||-2.8|
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