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Economic Indicators

Gross Domestic Product

Updated November 8, 2011

British Columbia’s real gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 3.0% in 2010, making up lost ground after registering a contraction (–2.1%) in 2009. The pace of economic growth in the province was primarily driven by a 5.3% increase in final domestic demand (total personal, business and government spending) with business investment (+13.9%) and consumer spending (+3.8%) spurring much of the growth.

While residential investment by the business sector was only moderately higher (+4.9%), investment in non-residential structures (+27.1%) and machinery & equipment (+11.9%) saw double-digit growth.

In the government sector, purchases of goods and services advanced only slightly (+1.6%) in 2010. However, total government sector spending in the province rose 10.6% with infrastructure spending rising 15.4%.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

B.C. Employment Rate

Updated August 10, 2012

British Columbia’s unemployment rate rose to 7.0% (seasonally adjusted) in July, compared to the previous month. The higher rate of unemployment was due to a contraction in the labour force (−0.2%), together with a 0.6% drop in employment.

Total employment in B.C.’s goods sector fell 2.0% (seasonally adjusted) in July. There were fewer people working in agriculture (−2.8%), construction (−3.3%), and manufacturing (−2.5%), but more jobs in utilities (+9.2%) and forestry, fishing, mining quarrying, oil & gas (+9.2%). Employment in the service sector edged slightly lower (−0.3%) in July. Declines were reported in educational services (−5.8%), followed by transportation & warehousing (−4.0%). The largest service sector employers, trade (+0.3%) and health care & social assistance (0.4%) took on more workers.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey)

Wages in B.C.

Updated August 10, 2012

Average weekly wages in B.C. were $848.01 in July, below the national average of $867.33. British Columbians worked an average of 31.7 hours weekly, just below the national average of 31.8 hours. Of the provinces, Quebec recorded the lowest average hours worked (29.4), while workers in Newfoundland & Labrador spent the most time on the job (34.1).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey)

Inflation rate in B.C.

Updated August 17, 2012

Inflation in British Columbia eased to 1.1% in July, following a 1.5% increase in consumer prices during the previous month. Energy prices climbed 1.8% and while food prices rose 2.3%. Minus the effects of the increases in food and energy, the consumer price index for B.C. rose just 0.8%. Shelter costs edged lower (−0.7%), while prices related to household operations (+3.0%), furnishings (+3.2%) and clothing & footwear (+5.0%) jumped.
The increase in consumer prices in Victoria (+1.0%) was slightly below the provincial average, while advancing at a somewhat faster rate in Vancouver (+1.4%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

Price of New Housing

Updated August 10, 2012

The average selling price for a new home (house and land) in British Columbia dipped 1.0% in June compared to the same month a year earlier. This decline in new housing prices was reflected in both Vancouver (−0.9%) and Victoria (−2.6%), two of B.C.’s most high-priced housing markets. Nationally, housing prices rose 2.3% between June 2011 and June 2012.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

Retail Sales

Updated July 27, 2012

Retail sales in the province were up slightly (+0.2%, seasonally adjusted) in May, mirroring a loss recorded in April (-0.2%). Canadian sales also inched up (+0.3%), partially reversing a downturn in the previous month (-0.6%). Declines in Manitoba (-0.6%), Quebec (-0.4%) and parts of Atlantic Canada were offset primarily by gains in Ontario (+0.2%) and the westernmost provinces. Saskatchewan (+2.0%), Alberta (+1.3%) and BC all posted increases. 
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

Manufacturing sales

Updated August 17, 2012

Manufacturing sales in British Columbia remained largely unchanged (seasonally adjusted) in June after rising in the previous month. While the three largest sources of manufacturing sales, wood (+3.6%), paper (+3.1%), and food (+2.0%) producers, all recorded increased shipments, these gains were offset by weaker sales for makers of machinery (−5.7%), primary metal products (−4.2%), as well as other kinds of manufacturing.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

Wholesale Sales

Updated June 29, 2012

Wholesale sales in British Columbia rose 1.6% (seasonally adjusted) in April, recovering all of the ground lost during the previous month. Wholesalers of personal & household goods (+2.9%), food, beverage & tobacco products (+2.5%), and building materials & supplies (+1.1%) posted increases, offsetting flagging sales (–1.6%) in the machinery, equipment & supplies sector.

At the national level, wholesale sales were up 1.5% in April, primarily due to higher revenues in the agricultural supply industry (+48.5%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

International Trade (Exports)

Updated August 10, 2012

The value of exports originating in B.C. dipped 0.5% (seasonally adjusted) in June, the fourth decline registered in the past six months. Weaker shipments of energy products (−6.2%) were responsible for much of the slowdown, offsetting gains made in industrial & consumer goods (+3.7%), forest products (+1.9%), and machinery & equipment and automobiles (+0.4%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: BC Stats)

Housing Starts

Updated July 13, 2012

Housing starts in the province continued to surge in June, climbing 29.0% (seasonally adjusted), following an 18.4% boost in the previous month. Canadian starts were up a moderate 2.4%, with seven provinces posting increases, the most notable of which was seen in PEI (+85.7%).
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

Residential and Non-Residential Building Permits - B.C. Regional

Updated August 10, 2012

Year-to-date, the value of building permits was 18.9% higher than in the first six months of 2011, with seven regions posting increases. Permits jumped 884.5% in North Coast, due to a surge in planned spending on industrial projects. In Mainland/Southwest, where the bulk of the province’s building activity occurs, a 21.1% increase in the value of permits reflected significantly higher spending on residential, industrial and institutional projects.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Sources: BC Stats and Statistics Canada)

Tourist visits

Updated August 10, 2012

Visitor entries to BC dropped (–0.8%) in May, due to reduced visitor traffic from the United States (–1.8%). Overnight visitor entries were down (–3.7%), while same-day visits rose (+1.4%). Overseas entries picked up in May (+2.6%), following three consecutive months of decline. Entries from Asia (+4.8%) and Europe (+2.1%) both contributed to the rise, while entries from other major regions fell 0.9%.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

Population

Updated June 29, 2012

British Columbia’s population was estimated at 4,606,451 on April 1st, an increase of 1.0% over April 2011. This marks the fifth consecutive net increase in BC’s population. The Prairies continued to lead the way in population growth as Alberta (+2.4%), Saskatchewan (+1.9%), and Manitoba (+1.3%) all posted increases above the national average (+1.1%). BC’s population growth ranked fifth among the provinces, behind Ontario (+1.1%), but ahead of Quebec (+0.9%). Newfoundland (–0.2%) was the only province to record a decline in population during the first quarter.
(Prepared by BC Stats, Source: Statistics Canada)

Independent Economic Forecast Council on economic growth

B.C.’s economy is expected grow moderately over the next year according to B.C.’s independent Economic Forecast Council. On average, the council forecasts B.C.’s GDP growth at 2.7 per cent for this year. This is down from Budget 2010, when economic growth was projected at 3.1 per cent. For 2012, the council’s forecast is unchanged at 3.0 per cent. The council’s average annual forecast for 2013-2015 is 2.8 per cent.

B.C.’s top credit rating reconfirmed

The Dominion Bond Rating Service, Standard & Poor, and Moody's Investment Service have all reconfirmed B.C.'s strong credit rating. The most recent report from Moody's notes the Province's debt reduction efforts of the past few years have put British Columbia in a stronger position to face the economic downturn. DBRS rates B.C. AA (High); Standard & Poor, AAA; and Moody's, AAA.