Vancouver Island’s goods sector thrived in 2017

DUNCAN, British Columbia, July 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In 2017, the Vancouver Island/Coast’s population grew by 10,201 new residents. Not surprisingly, the Capital Regional District and Nanaimo attracted just over three-quarters of the newcomers, while the Cowichan Valley, Comox, Strathcona, and Alberni-Clayquot regional districts accommodated the rest. The region’s economic growth also emulated this settlement pattern – as just under three-quarters of new jobs were in the service sector largely found in the urban centres of the Island, and the jobs remaining in the goods sector were in the mid to upper Island regions.

According to the latest CPABC Regional Check-Up, an annual economic report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC), the region added a total of 20,100 jobs last year, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.0 per cent, just below the provincial average of 5.1 per cent. And while the service sector accounted for the majority of the job gains, it is the goods sector’s economic performance that should be noted.

All five industries in the goods sector added jobs last year. The mining and oil and gas industries reported the largest gain, with 2,200 new jobs. In 2017, the region’s two major mines, Myra and Quinsam were both on care and maintenance and quarry operations remained stable. The job gains appear to have have been the result of re-hiring in Alberta’s oil patch, and work related to the proposed Steelhead LNG facility in Port Alberni.

“Despite the on-going dispute with the United States regarding B.C.’s softwood lumber, our region’s forestry industry fared reasonably well. Forestry and logging remained stable, with exports slightly up from last year. However, wood products manufacturing contracted as a result of supply constraints,” said Woody Hayes, FCPA, FCA. “As a result, Western Forest Products consolidated its South Island operations and closed the Somass Sawmill in Port Alberni.”

Although there was a reduction of manufacturing employment in wood, as well as food and beverage productions, the manufacturing industry added 1,300 jobs. This was largely due to an increase in paper production. Construction also added 1,000 new jobs, as a result of increased housing starts and higher investment in all categories of construction.

“It is encouraging to see the job growth in 2017. Looking at the first five months of 2018, the labour market further grew by 15,300 jobs, all in the service sector. The goods sector actually lost 4,000 jobs, almost half of which were in construction. These cuts may be seasonal or weather-related, but may also signal dampened confidence in the development industry,” said Hayes. “Capital investment in residential, commercial, and industrial projects, as well as infrastructure, have played a big role in our economy. But the number of projects and the total value have declined in recent years. Last year, the total value of our region’s major projects fell by 3.0 per cent to $58.7 billion.”

About CPABC Regional Check-Up ­– Vancouver Island/Coast:
The Vancouver Island/Coast Development Region encompasses Vancouver Island and the central coast of the B.C. mainland from Powell River to Ocean Falls and Bella Coola. The Development Region makes up approximately 17.2 per cent of the provincial population.

The CPABC Regional Check-Up reports look at British Columbia’s eight Development Regions as a place to work, invest, and live. The reports are available online at:  

About CPA British Columbia
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for over 35,000 CPA members and 5,000 CPA students and candidates. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.

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