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This was previously published on the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia website.
The Thompson-Okanagan Development Region (Thompson-Okanagan) enjoyed a stellar performance in 2017, highlighted by a 10-year record in population growth, strong tourism activity, and record housing sales. Together, these factors stimulated job creation, particularly in the service sector.
"Employment in 2017 reached an all-time high of 259,700 positions. Almost all of the jobs created last year were in the service sector, as seven of the 11 service industries recorded job gains," said Karen Christiansen, FCPA, FCA, partner at MNP LLP. "This is not surprising, given the population growth, real estate demand, and tourism activity we experienced. For example, over half of the 12,000 new residents settled in the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, which led to increased service demand and tremendous growth in their real estate market. In Penticton, sales transactions were up 16 per cent to reach $544 million, and the average price for a single-family detached home jumped 19.4 per cent to $545,000 in 2017."
In total, the service sector added 10,400 new positions. This growth completely offset the loss of 5,400 service jobs in 2016 and pushed service sector employment in the region to its highest level since 2012. Housing activity led to an increase of 3,400 new positions in the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing industry last year. Public administration followed with 2,500 job gains, while the retail trade industry added 1,800 positions, and the business, building and other support services industry added 1,500.
Employment in the Thompson-Okanagan's goods sector grew by 1,000 jobs in 2017. Not surprisingly, construction saw the highest gain with 4,000 new jobs as housing starts ramped up. Despite challenging weather conditions that led to lower crop yields, the agriculture industry also added 400 positions. Forestry, logging and support services increased by 800 positions, but this gain was offset by an equal number of job losses in mining and oil and gas extraction. The latter likely relates to ripple effects from Alberta's oil and gas sector as local mining production was stable in 2017 apart from minor closures due to the forest fires.
Despite the impressive job gains the region had last year, the Thompson-Okanagan's unemployment rate remained high, at 7.1 per cent, or two percentage points above the provincial average. This seemingly lackluster performance is disguised by the 10,300 people who entered the workforce last year, including the re-entry of 4,800 people who had previously opted out of the labour market, indicating optimism in the job market.
"Over the first three months of 2018, we've seen our unemployment rate go back up slightly to 7.4 per cent, as employment declined," said Christiansen, "We have yet to see our region's seasonal surge in the spring / summer months as tourist and agricultural activity pick up. With the long winter we just had and the flooding threat we are under right now, seasonal employment activity may be further delayed."
About CPABC Regional Check-Up – Thompson-OkanaganThe Thompson-Okanagan Development Region comprises five Regional Districts, the Okanagan-Similkameen, Thompson-Nicola, Central Okanagan, North Okanagan, and Columbia-Shuswap, and has the third-highest population after Southwest B.C. and Vancouver Island/Coast.
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: www.bccheckup.com.
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 almost 5,000 CPA students. 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.
Related Topics:In The Community; Economy
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