BC’s Pre- and Post-COVID Economy

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By Ryan McLaughlin | email

Canada’s Pacific melting pot province of British Columbia is rich in natural beauty, resources, and talent. In recent years, British Columbia’s economy has outperformed most other Canadian provinces. BC’s inflation-adjusted GDP expanded at a very impressive annual rate of 3.3% between 2014 and 2017. Indeed, from 2010 to 2018, inflation-adjusted GDP per person grew by 11%, faster than any other province. Compared to other regions of Canada, British Columbians have been creating considerably more economic output per person over the past decade, which is intimately connected to prosperity.

COVID-19 is likely the largest shock to British Columbia’s economy since the end of the Second World War. While the province has been relatively successful in preventing the spread of the virus, certain large and vulnerable sectors, such as food and accommodation, tourism, and film sectors, have been impacted. The province’s robust real estate and construction industry has also slowed considerably. March and April were both the largest one-month drops in official employment figures since the start of the modern version of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey in 1976. Combining the drops of March and April, a total drop of 15% in total jobs occurred. 

Despite these negative impacts, the data discussed in this blog illustrates that the digital economy has not been adversely affected by COVID-19 or the resulting lockdowns of the economy. This is likely because demand for digital economy services has heightened during the pandemic (online entertainment, ecommerce). The digital economy production process is also less affected by lockdowns, as most digital economy workers are able to perform their jobs remotely. Therefore, the digital economy is likely to offer a path forward for BC’s economy as the COVID crisis gradually resolves. Resiliency to shock, high wages, and growing employment mean that BC’s digital economy will likely remain a bullish sector for the near future.

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