As trusted economists and policy advisors to business and government leaders, the Council relies on sound, evidence-based analysis to inform its policy recommendations. Through diligent tracking of BC’s economic performance, we help identify the opportunities and challenges the province must navigate in order to reach its full potential.
Finlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: Why B.C. labour force participation is down in an up market (Business in Vancouver)
In an environment where jobs are plentiful, many employers are struggling to fill vacancies, and wages are rising, one would expect more people to be clamouring to join the work force. This is precisely what has happened in B.C. over the past couple of years: strong employment growth helped to push the labour force participation rate higher. By the end of 2017, 65.3 percent of the province’s working-age population was employed or actively seeking work, two percentage points higher than in 2015.
But the recent bump runs counter to the longer-term trend, which has seen the labour force participation rate drift lower. In fact, participation peaked in the early 1990s, when 67 percent of British Columbians over the age of 15 were in the workforce. This peak was reached even though the unemployment rate at the time was double the current level. Jobs were harder to find then, but a bigger slice of the population was part of the labour force.
Finlayson Op-Ed: 'Clean growth' is a nice idea, but policymakers shouldn't forget what really makes B.C. money (The Province)
Policymakers in Victoria have a lot more work to do if they are interested in strengthening the province’s export economy.
The provincial NDP government has pledged to develop a “clean growth strategy” to position the province for continued prosperity in a world where demand is increasing for products and technologies that reduce the impact of human activity on the environment. With a carbon-free electricity system and an array of local companies in the “clean tech” space, B.C. has some of the ingredients necessary for clean growth. But amid their enthusiasm for developing new industries, policymakers also need to pay close attention to the industries that pay the bills today.
Canadian, US business leaders announce joint framework for cross-border growth
Today, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor announced the formation of a binational steering committee composed of the region’s top business, research and community leaders. The Committee marks a step forward in growing the Cascadia Innovation Corridor into a cohesive, globally recognized hub of innovation and commerce.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Understanding the downward trend in unionization (Troy Media)
The arrival of another Labour Day provided an opportunity to reflect on the place of trade unions in our economy.
The unionization rate – sometimes called union density – measures the share of employees in the workforce who belong to a union.
In B.C., the rate has dropped significantly in recent decades. The trend has persisted through multiple business cycles and provincial governments of different political stripes. Today, about 30 per cent of workers in the province are union members, down from more than 40 per cent in the early 1980s.
Reflections on the Canadian house price boom
It is hard to imagine that Canadian house prices will continue to rise significantly faster than overall inflation and incomes. An extended period of weaker real Canadian house prices seems probable.
Statement from BCBC regarding Federal Court of Appeal ruling
The Business Council of British Columbia has released the following statement from President and Chief Executive Officer, Greg D’Avignon regarding this week’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal
For the past decade or so, amid readily available credit and ultra-low interest rates, Canadians have been piling up debt.
Finlayson & Peacock op-ed: Growing tax burden hurts B.C. business competitiveness (Business in Vancouver)
In many sectors of our economy, the cost of operating a business has risen significantly over the past several years due to provincial government policy decisions. For a typical business, the most visible government-driven cost increases have come via higher (and in some cases new) taxes and fees. Below we briefly discuss the most salient examples.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Time for a reality check about Canada’s exports (Troy Media & Black Press)
Industrial transitions don’t happen overnight. Nor do politicians generally have a decisive role in that evolution.
Finlayson & St-Laurent Op-Ed: Jobs and careers in the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (Troy Media)
The work world is being transformed by rapidly evolving digital technologies as we march into what many are calling the “fourth industrial revolution.”
With disruptive technologies pushing the frontiers of automation, some of the comparative advantages humans traditionally have enjoyed relative to technology are eroding. Computers and learning-based algorithms have progressed beyond replacing repetitive, manual tasks with mechanical execution.
Williams Op-Ed: Will the kids be alright? It’s up to us. (Vancouver Sun)
Will the kids be alright? Will they prosper? These are questions all parents ponder. For a child born today, their standard of living during adulthood will hinge upon the success of their parents’ generation in raising per capita gross domestic product (GDP per person). Small shifts in the trend growth rate in GDP per person lead to substantial differences in living standards over the course of a generation.
Finlayson Op-Ed: Learning to adapt to the growing gig economy (Troy Media)
Most gig jobs fall into the category of contingent work. Such work can be contrasted with a traditional job, in which a person has a durable and structured employment relationship with a specific employer. Today, more people are garnering income via contracting, freelancing, temporary assignments and various kinds of on-call arrangements. All of these are part of the broader gig economy.
Firms in B.C. and Central Canada Report Widespread Capacity Pressures
The Bank of Canada’s Summer Business Outlook Survey provides some interesting insights into the extent of capacity pressures faced by companies across the country
B.C. Employment by Industry -- The Long View
Following up on our recent blog looking at long-term employment growth by occupation, we now examine which industries have contributed to B.C. employment growth over time.
B.C. Employment Growth by Occupation -- The Long View
How has the labour market in British Columbia changed over the past thirty years? How has technology reshaped it? What occupations have shown the most and the least employment growth?
Finlayson Op-Ed: Toward higher costs and less competition in public-sector procurement (Vancouver Sun)
The provincial government is establishing a new framework for developing public-sector infrastructure projects. Last week, Premier John Horgan and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena released an umbrella “Community Benefits Agreement” (CBA), intended to achieve several objectives:
Mullen & St-Laurent Op-Ed: Why the workforce gender gap matters to business (Troy Media, Times Colonist & The Hamilton Spectator)
In British Columbia and Canada more broadly, the proportion of females aged 15 and over who participate in the labour force remains nine percentage points below that of males. And it has stayed this way since the early 1990s.
Why does this matter?
How will Digitalization Affect the Labour Market?
The challenge facing policy-makers – in British Columbia, Canada and globally – is how to maximise the productivity gains of technological progress through digitalization, while taking steps to mitigate its intrinsically-skewed distribution of benefits.
Toward Higher Costs and Less Competition in Public Sector Procurement
The provincial government is establishing a new framework for developing and sourcing labour to build public-sector infrastructure projects. We see at least two big problems with the government's plan.
FInlayson & Peacock Op-Ed: B.C. job creation stalls, but province’s job vacancy rate still high (Business in Vancouver)
After several years of torrid job growth and a steadily falling unemployment rate, B.C.’s labour market looks to have cooled off.
In particular, job creation has come to a shuddering halt so far in 2018. In Statistics Canada’s June Labour Force Survey, for example, employment was down 0.3% from the month before. In fact, monthly job gains have been so lacklustre that the overall level of employment in the province is slightly below where it stood a year ago. Even Metro Vancouver – once Canada’s hottest job market – has experienced a dip in year-over-year employment. Moreover, the provincial unemployment rate has ticked higher, compared with both one month and one year ago.
Yet, oddly, there are also signs that the demand for workers remains robust.