BC steadily losing its work force to Alberta

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BCBC 1 BCBC2 BCBC3Vancouver:  In a report published May 2, Business Council of British Columbia  economists Ken Peacock and Jock Finlayson have pointed out that through inter-provincial migration, BC has experienced a significant loss of working-age individuals to Alberta over the past two years. This flow of people is skewed heavily towards younger people, which suggests they are moving to secure better jobs and perhaps also to take advantage of lower housing costs in Alberta.  The net outflow of people to Alberta is still somewhat lower than in the late 1990s. We note that the latter years of the 1990s were characterized by higher unemployment with few reports of skill shortages. Recent analysis of interprovincial workers indicates that in 2009 there were as many as 29,000 people working in Alberta but still residing in BC. This was equivalent to about 1.2% of all workers in BC. The 29,000 figure does not include British Columbians who have shifted their province of residence to Alberta. More than half of these 29,000 interprovincial employees were below the age of 35.  While the interprovincial flow of people moving or commuting to secure work is part of a healthy and well-functioning Canadian economy, because labour market conditions are tighter than in the late 1990s and the number of interprovincial employees has risen over the past decade it is clear that the robust demand for workers in Alberta is adding to hiring challenges in some sectors of the BC economy.

The data tracking interprovincial migration patterns confirm that British Columbians are now re-locating to Alberta in significant numbers.  In addition to higher-paying jobs, we can assume that lower housing costs are also playing a role in attracting younger BC families to Alberta.

There is another dimension to Alberta’s impact on BC’s workforce, however. This takes the form of people who continue to reside in British Columbia but work and earn their living in Alberta. This short report examines both elements of the outflow of workers – interprovincial migration and out- of-province employment by residents – to evaluate to what extent is Alberta is serving as a drain on the pool of young, skilled workers in BC.

Of interest, if one takes a longer-term view, over the past decade the flow of people between BC and Alberta has been roughly balanced; but looking at the past two decades, BC has experienced a cumulative net loss of approximately 42,000 people.

Not surprisingly, given geographic proximity and relative job opportunities, Alberta dominates BC’s interprovincial migration. Typically Alberta becomes home for about half of all BC residents who move out of the province each year.  In 2012/13 Alberta was the destination for 56% of BC’s interprovincial out-migrants.  In the reverse direction,  BC  became  the  destination  for 43% of Alberta out-migrants in the same period.

As might be expected, younger age cohorts drive much of the migration between provinces. In the most recent year, BC recorded a net loss of nearly 4,000 people between the ages of 25 and 34 to other provinces. The next largest outflow was for 15 to 24 year olds, in which BC had a net loss of 2,600.   The province also posted a net outflow of nearly 1,000 35-44 year olds. Adding these groups together, the data indicate that BC lost 7,500 core working age people last year (we estimate that slightly more than half of these went to Alberta). Note, however, that the net outflow of core working age British Columbians.

The report concludes: Examining both interprovincial migration flows and  interprovincial employees suggests that Alberta is having a significant effect on BC’s labour market – particularly on the supply of workers. We believe this is exacerbating hiring challenges in certain sectors of the BC economy – and that the challenges are likely to intensify in the coming years as BC’s economy picks up and the  pace  of  major  project  activity accelerates with the development of a sizable LNG industry in the province.

 

Both the migration data and the interprovincial employment numbers indicate that younger age cohorts are most likely to relocate or commute interprovincial for work. Many British Columbia employers hoping to attract and retain educated and skilled younger workers will continue to face pressure from the powerful draw being exerted by strong labour demand and comparatively high pay levels in Alberta.

 

Read full report on : http://www.bcbc.com/publications/2014/albertas-demand-for-workers-is-affecting-the-labour-market-in-bc