Thompson Okanagan's economy shows signs of growth
A new report by the Chartered Accountants of B.C. indicates that 2010 showed signs of economic recovery.
The BC Check-Up, Regional Edition shows that employment numbers in the Thompson-Okanagan Development Region increased, and the unemployment rate declined. Business incorporations rebounded and the number of business establishments continued to increase. However, for a second consecutive year capital investment declined.
“The numbers for 2010 are cautiously optimistic,” said Jeff Omland, CA, partner with Omland Heal Chartered Accountants in Penticton. “Following the losses sustained in 2009, last year was marked by job growth and a decline in unemployment, particularly among young workers. The number of business establishments increased for the eighth consecutive year, and business incorporations jumped, rising by 8.5 per cent.”
According to the report, the region’s economy gained 9,200 new jobs. The region’s service sector added 8,200 jobs, or 89 per cent of total employment growth, with eight out of eleven service industries reporting job gains. The information, culture and recreation industry grew by 2,800 jobs, trade added 3,700 jobs, transportation and warehousing grew by 2,200 jobs, and education increased by 1,300 new jobs.
A large increase in residential building permits accounted for job growth in professional, scientific and technical services and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing.
Although the region’s goods-producing sector reported an overall net job gain of 1,000 jobs, losses were sustained by the agriculture and construction industries, which lost a combined total of 3,100 jobs.
The unemployment rate in the Thompson-Okanagan declined from 9.4 per cent to 8 per cent. The youth unemployment rate shrank 2.5 percentage points to 10.6 per cent, and was lower than the provincial average of 11.3 per cent.
The BC Check-Up found that 202 new business incorporations were established in 2010, and business growth was due entirely to a surge in self-employment. The increase in self-employment made up for losses in both small and medium-size businesses.
For the ninth consecutive year corporate bankruptcies declined. This positive, enduring trend suggests that both entrepreneurs and investors in the region were cautious and resilient enough to weather the previous year’s economic challenges.
On a less positive note, capital investment and development in the region declined for the second consecutive year. New project proposals dropped from 34 in 2009 to 15 in 2010, and the total value of projects declined, from $2.8 billion to $1.4 billion. New projects starting construction in 2010 were also down, from 23 projects worth $1.7 billion in 2009, to 12 valued at $0.8 billion.
“The region’s economic recovery has been, and will continue to be, dependent on the strength of our service-producing sector,” continued Omland. “As activity in other industries and sectors begins to improve, we are sure to see further employment growth and economic recovery in the year to come.”
The Thompson-Okanagan Development Region comprises five Regional Districts, the Okanagan-Similkameen, Thompson-Nicola, Central Okanagan, North Okanagan and Columbia-Shuswap, and accounts for about twelve per cent of the provincial population.
The BC Check-Up, Regional Edition looks at each region as a place to work, invest, and live. The report is available online at: www.bccheckup.com.