A Guide to the BC Economy and Labour Market
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  Future Outlook  

What's the outlook to 2017?

The Canadian Occupational Projection System (also known as COPS) produces a forecast of GDP and employment demand by industry for the province. This forecast is based on economic models. Because it predicts the future based on current thinking about the direction of the economy, it may not be accurate (it is particularly difficult to forecast the future during periods of economic slowdown). However, it does give an indication of the direction in which the economy may be going in the next few years.

British Columbia's economy, as measured by real GDP, is expected to expand 24% between 2008 and 2017. The service sector is forecast to provide most of the impetus for growth, expanding 27%. In the goods sector, economic growth is expected to be more constrained, rising only 16%. However, employment is not expected to keep pace with GDP growth, suggesting that most of the gains will be due to higher labour productivity.

Total employment in the goods sector is forecast to rise 5%, increasing to 525,300 by the year 2017. Job growth is expected to be strongest in the service sector, where employment is forecast to increase 14%, to 2,071,000, but will still lag behind GDP growth.

The service sector is forecast to continue to grow more rapidly than goods-producing industries


The service sector is forecast to continue to grow more rapidly than goods-producing industries.

Source: Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) & Ministry of Advanced Education & Labour Market Development forecast

What comes next?

This section described the structure of the BC economy in general terms, and it compared employment, GDP and various characteristics of workers in the goods and service sectors.

So what does all this mean for workers or job-seekers in the province? It is important to understand the big picture, but you should also have a good understanding of what's happening, and what's expected to happen, within these sectors.

In the Major Industries section, specific industries within the goods and service sectors are examined. It begins by describing each of the province's major goods industries and then looks at the service sector. For each industry, it includes information, where possible, about:

  • How it developed
  • What is included in the sector
  • What has happened since 1990, and the sector's size relative to the total economy in terms of both GDP and employment
  • The most common occupations in the industry
  • How many people work in the industry, and how much they earn
  • Various characteristics of the workforce, such as:
    • the male/female composition of the workforce;
    • whether jobs are part-time or full-time;
    • seasonal patterns of employment
    • unemployment rates;
    • self-employment; and
    • union coverage
  • Establishment size
  • Where the jobs are located
  • The outlook for employment and GDP in the industry up to 2017

Although most of the information is available by industry, there are a few gaps in the data, especially for some of the smaller industries. Hopefully this information will give you a better understanding of how BC's economy works.

A Guide to the BC Economy and Labour MarketA Guide to the BC Economy and Labour Market