The Lower Mainland’s transportation sector has been one of the region’s best-performing industries in recent years. File photo

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

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B.C.’s job market is the tightest in the nation and expected to remain hot for years to come, according to a major Canadian economic think tank.

The Conference Board of Canada says employment will continue to rise slowly, and the demand for workers will push wages up over the coming years.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, is expected to remain around 4.3 per cent this year – which is the lowest level since 2008. It’s expected to tick up slightly next year, but remain below five per cent for years to come, making now a good time to be looking for a new job in a range of industries and sectors.

The board’s latest report lays out which sectors can expect the greatest growth in the coming year, a factor that often drives the supply of new jobs.

Metro Vancouver’s “finance, insurance and real estate industry is anticipated to see steady gains over the next few years,” the board says. And while the construction sector is expected to see “more moderate growth” and housing starts will decline, the board expects them to remain above the 10-year average.

Professional services are expected to be the fastest-growing industry this year, and the board says the manufacturing sector is also in for a good year.

The retail trade industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years, but slowed last year. Still, the coming years are expected to be good for the sector, with growth forecast for 3.4 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent beyond that.

Transportation and warehouse sector that supplies many retailers has seen similar growth, and is also expected to keep growing in the years to come.

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The health care industry is set for similarly solid growth, and the report notes that, “Faced with an aging population, governments will increase spending more rapidly on health care services than in other areas.”

Only the education and public administration industries are signaled out for lackluster performance in 2018. Both sectors actually shrunk, but are expected to rally next year with growth below one per cent.

A separate report for the Abbotsford-Mission area predicts even better economic fortunes for the Central Fraser Valley.

The region added nearly 3,000 jobs last year, and although the unemployment rate is slightly higher than Metro Vancouver, it is expected to remain below five per cent for the immediate future.

Continued construction is expected to keep that industry strong and growing by 3.1 per cent over the coming years.

Abbotsford’s transportation and warehousing industry, which has expanded dramatically in recent years, is expected to keep growing. The sector is expected to grow by more than five per cent in each of the next two years, “making it the region’s growth leader over the next two years,” the report says.

The region’s wholesale trade, retail trade, and real estate, finance and insurance industries are all also expected to perform well, making the coming years an ideal opportunity to be hunting for a new job.

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