B.C. Business Matters:
How Much Are Employees in BC Earning?
The question of what people are paid in their jobs is obviously of great importance to individual employees. It’s also relevant in a broader, macro-economic sense. Because the bulk of total household income comes from employment, it follows that the spending power of most people is strongly influenced by how much they earn from working.
Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (CSKFTA) is Good News for BC
The conclusion of the protracted negotiations to establish a free trade agreement with South Korea is a positive step for British Columbia. South Korea is the fourth largest destination for BC’s merchandise exports (after the US, China and Japan), so improved access to its market will be helpful for a number of the province’s export industries. The agreement also lays the foundation for an expansion of services trade, business travel, and investment between the two countries.
Investment Intentions in BC: A Pause Before the Boom?
Last week, Statistics Canada released its annual investment intentions survey results for the coming year (2014). Completed over the period of October through January, the survey gauges the near-term investment intentions of a large number of private and public sector organizations across the country, with a focus on planned investment activity in three areas: residential building, non-residential structures, and machinery and equipment (M&E).
Business incentives – trade barrier or necessary economic development tool?
“Canada is a guppy in shark infested waters.” Sergio Marchionne, CEO Chrysler Group
With that remarkably candid assessment of Canada’s ability to compete with automotive industry incentives being offered by Mexico and various American states for a $3.6 billion manufacturing investment tentatively planned for the Chrysler’s Canadian operations, the company’s CEO ensured that his views hit the business pages of newspapers across Canada. And his comment was made after the Ontario government had already committed to significant tax incentives for the automotive sector and the federal government had just unveiled a budget featuring a half billion dollar Automotive Incentive Fund.
The Middle Class is Not Disappearing After All...
Statistics Canada’s new survey of household finances throws cold water on the often-voiced assertion that the ranks of the country’s middle class have been dramatically thinned by the combined forces of rising income inequality, globalization and disruptive technological change.
A Snapshot of Government Debt Across the Land
The start of the 2014 government budget season is an opportune moment to update the figures on accumulated public sector debt for Canada’s ten provinces as well as the national government.
Building Links Between Disabled Persons and the Workforce
About 700,000 people in BC are characterized as having some kind of disability, and approximately half of these are in the “traditional” working age group of 15 to 64. The good news is that 56% of disabled British Columbians are employed, albeit this is about 20% lower than the share for non-disabled workers. Some 64% of the 150,000 disabled persons who are not in the workforce are precluded from working due to the severity of their limitations.
Recent Jump in Part time Employment is Not a Reflection of Deteriorating Job Quality
Amid soft labour market conditions in BC last year, some concerns emerged about the quality of jobs being created in the province. In particular, an increase in the number of part-time jobs in the latter months of year was seen as an indication that people were unable to find a full-time job and settling for part-time work.
BC Ports and Shipping Industry are Global Leaders
The shipping industry is one of the oldest in the world but is not well known -- even though many immigrants arrived by boat to North America. Settlers relied on ships to move supplies to the New World from the Old World. Today, shipping is still a fundamental means of conducting trade and transporting goods from place to place. In Canada, shipping represents the dominant mode of bulk deliveries for both exports and imports to and from markets other than the United States.
BP's Global Energy Outlook 2035 - Confirmation of Some Key Energy Trends
Given the critical importance of energy production and use to our societies (economic , social and environmental), the forecasting of energy supply and demand is an essential tool in helping to shape the myriad public and private sector policies and investment decisions required to ensure energy availability and effective energy resource use.
The Upside of a Lower Dollar for BC
In early May last year the Canadian dollar was trading near parity with the US dollar. Between May and mid-October it fluctuated between 99 and 96 US cents per Canadian dollar. In November the Loonie started on a more definitive downward trend and by early 2014 it had fallen sharply to about 91.5 US cents. This relatively rapid decline hurts Canadian residents inclined to shop in the US, snowbirds and residents vacationing south of the border. But on balance, the fall in the Loonie is good news for BC in an overall economic sense.
The Plight of the Overeducated Worker
One feature of today’s labour market is the swelling ranks of what appear to be “over-qualified” or “over-educated” employees.
BC Productivity Numbers Disappoint
Statistics Canada has just released productivity estimates for 2012, and for BC the news isn’t very heartening. Labour productivity in the province’s business sector fell by 1.4% last year, after posting a solid 2.8% gain in 2011.
Signs of Life: Retail Spending in BC Gaining Some Strength
After more than a year of moving sideways, retail spending in BC is finally showing some signs of strengthening.
What Does BC’s Triple A Credit Rating Have To Do With Dim Sum?
In a world that is riddled with debt-laden governments, BC’s comparatively low debt-to-GDP ratio and coveted triple A credit rating are increasingly being viewed as strategic advantages that can help to promote the province from a fiscal and investment perspective.
The Location of Corporate Headquarters in a Shifting Global Business Landscape
Emerging economies now account for roughly half of world economic output (measured using purchasing-power-parity exchange rates), and their share is projected to continue growing over the next several years and beyond. As they loom larger in global markets, emerging economies are also becoming more important as centers for all kinds of businesses, including the major multinational enterprises (MNEs) that traditionally have been concentrated in a handful of mature Western economies.
Canada and BC Greenhouse Gas Emissions – How are we doing anyway?
In the just published 5th assessment report of the International Panel on Climate Change, the authors tried to be less uncertain with their predictions about climate change than in the past. They concluded that “[w]arming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.” Canada is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and in 2009we signed the Copenhagen Accord, which committed thecountry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005levels (737 MT CO2e) by 2020 (~ 612 MT CO2e).
HST Era Food Services Receipts Rose and Fell, But Stronger Growth has Followed the Return to PST
BC reverted back the PST system on April 1st of this year. It is still too early to determine what specific impacts this important change in tax policy will have on BC’s economy. Economists and public finance scholars are virtually unanimous in believing that shifting back to the PST will have negative long-term consequences in key areas such as business investment, productivity and the growth of real wages. However, the picture is a bit less clear from a shorter-term perspective.
One sector where the return to the PST may have a favourable near-term impact is the food services industry. This is because the HST raised the tax-inclusive price of meals purchased from food services establishments, whereas restaurant meals are not subject to the PST – meaning the retail price is lower for consumers. While it is still early, data on restaurant sales receipts are available through July of this year, providing a full quarter of sales figures under the reinstated PST. The graph below shows the total value of all food services receipts in BC (full service and limited service food establishments, drinking places and special food services such as caterers). The data are seasonally adjusted to better show short-term changes and trends.
Four Observations on Local Government Finances in BC
This week’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention showcased a major new report on local government finances authored by a UBCM committee. Entitled “Strong Futures: A Blueprint for Strengthening BC Local Governments’ Finance System,” the report argues that the current municipal financing model, which depends in large part on property taxes to fund local services, needs to be overhauled. In particular, the paper advances a case that municipalities in BC should have access to more revenue sources – including revenue streams that are closely linked to economic growth, such as sales tax and even income tax. Local governments in BC, the paper notes, are “heavily reliant on the property tax, which neither grows with the economy nor distributes costs fairly” (p. 6).