B.C.’s economy is No. 1, GDP numbers confirm

It has been a lengthy wait, but the release of provincial gross domestic product (GDP) estimates confirmed our expectation that B.C. indeed led the country in economic growth in 2015. Provincial GDP expanded 3% last year, compared to 0.9% nationally, and aligned with our expectations. Ontario was the second-strongest performer with a 2.5% expansion while Alberta was the weakest link with a 4% contraction.

eading growth sectors included retail sales (6.3%), finance and insurance (9.7%) and real estate, rental and leasing (4.9%). With retail growth led by building materials and gardening stores, and gain in these other sectors, it is no stretch to suggest that a strong housing market and rising home prices were a key contributor, in addition to a strengthening labour market and more tourism activity.

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Canadian forestry finding its footing despite market challenges

 

The good news is that market conditions and profits are improving for Canadian lumber and pulp and paper producers.

The recent numbers are promising. 

First-quarter financials show that B.C.’s major forestry companies have been posting increased earnings, thanks to higher lumber prices, a low Canadian dollar and an improving U.S. housing market.

U.S. housing starts were up 6% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with Q4 2014, according to PwC. 

New housing starts in the U.S. have been recently calculated to be an average of 1.1 million. Business Council of BC chief economist Ken Peacock said they’re forecast to rise to 1.2 million to 1.4 million between now and 2025.

“Essentially, the story is low interest rates, better job market and demographics are going to continue to drive the U.S. home-building market over the next five to six years,” Peacock said.

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A look inside B.C.’s booming April job numbers

In April, British Columbia’s unemployment rate dropped to a stunningly low 5.8% — the first time the province’s unemployment rate has been the lowest in the country since Statistics Canada began collecting comparable data in 1976.

The highest job growth by far was in construction, at 6.2%, reversing a 0.4% drop in March. B.C. also added jobs in accommodation and food service jobs (up 2.9%). Utilities, educational services and retail and wholesale trade were other categories that saw job growth.

Metro Vancouver real estate and construction activity has been extremely heated. In April, Metro Vancouver’s housing starts were the highest they’ve been since 1972, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. After seeing 20% gains in 2015, home prices continued to accelerate in the first few months of 2016: in April 2016, the average Greater Vancouver single family home was up 30% compared to April 2015.

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B.C.’s minimum wage will rise to $10.85 this year, and $11.25 by 2017

The B.C. government will increase the province’s minimum wage in two stages, bringing the wage from the current $10.45 an hour to $11.25 an hour by 2017.
On Sept. 15, 2016, minimum wage will rise to $10.85.

That’s a higher rise that what the province had previously committed to: an increase based on inflation that this year would have amounted to a $0.10 bump. The increase reflects $0.10 for inflation and $0.30 for B.C.’s economic growth, which has been the most robust in the country.

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New Brunswick court decision could help expand market for B.C. wines

A decision by a provincial court judge in New Brunswick is expected to open up new markets in the rest of Canada for B.C.’s wine industry.

On April 29, New Brunswick judge Ronald LeBlanc threw out the law preventing residents from that province from importing beer and wine from other provinces.

“This is finally a crack in the dyke,” said Miles Prodan, president of the British Columbia Wine Institute. “We have long advocated for the ability for a B.C. winery to sell their Canadian-produced product to other Canadians.

“Until now, it was up to the provinces to determine what made the most sense to them. What the provinces are trying to do – and I understand this – is to keep their monopoly. Now the courts have ruled.”

Read the full article on BIV.com.