Resource sector is behind 70% of the things that get made in BC

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Natural resources are fundamental to the health of another sector, one that runs across the entire economy

Natural resource jobs dominate British Columbia’s export industry, sustaining tens of thousands of direct, well-paying jobs, and generate billions of dollars in windfall revenue to support government programs and services.

But that’s just the most visible part of the story. A new report from BC Stats shows that natural resources are also fundamental to the health of another sector, one that runs across the entire economy and is associated with making things.

That's the province’s manufacturing sector.

It turns out that manufacturers are much more dependent on natural resources than counterparts in other parts of the country.

resourceshare.jpgNatural resources activity directly supports about 50,000 jobs for workers in sectors such as forestry, mining, energy and agriculture. By contrast, like the larger underwater portion of an iceberg, BC manufacturing employs about 161,000 people — with about 112,000 of them in jobs with an overriding resource component. The top five BC manufacturing subsectors, based on GDP, are wood, food, paper, primary metal and fabricated metal.

“In general,” the report says, “the manufacturing sector in BC continues to be more reliant on natural resources than other manufacturing provinces in Canada. In 2013, nearly 70% of BC’s manufacturing sector GDP originated from resource-based manufacturing industries.

“These include food, beverages, wood, paper, petroleum and coal products, non-metallic minerals, primary metal, and fabricated metal manufacturing industries. In contrast about 40% of the manufacturing sector GDP in Ontario was generated by the aforementioned industries.”

The report, titled A Profile of British Columbia’s Manufacturing Sector, was prepared by BC Stats for the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and is based on 2013 data sourced from Statistics Canada.

Ontario (44.5%), Quebec (25.7%) and Alberta (11.1%) are the top three for manufacturing sector GDP among Canadian provinces, with B.C. in fourth spot at 8.5% of the national total.

In BC, manufacturing is the fourth-largest sector by GDP among all industries, trailing only finance and real estate, construction, and health care.

The report said that wood product manufacturing was “by far the largest industry” within BC’s manufacturing sector, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the sector’s total GDP.

People who work in manufacturing are some of BC’s top wage earners. Average weekly wages in the manufacturing sector average about 12% higher than the province as a whole. 

In 2014, workers in the primary metal sector — such as smelters and foundries — made $1,582 a week, the highest pay in the manufacturing sector, and higher than both average weekly wages for manufacturing workers in durable goods such as furniture or electronics ($1,081/week) and non-durable goods such as clothing or food ($889/wk).

In the goods producing sector, manufacturing was the second-largest employer across the B.C. economy (7.1% of provincial labour force) — trailing only the construction industry (8.8%).

Most job growth in manufacturing is full time work. For example the report said that in 2014, only 6.8% of manufacturing workers were part time compared to 22% across the BC labour force.

The report said that in 2014 the value of BC’s manufactured goods exports reached $22.8 billion, and accounted for 64% of BC’s exports to international destinations. Nearly 60% of BC-manufactured goods go to the United States, which is our primary export market for finished lumber, and nearly 20% go to China, which is one of our  primary markets for wood, metal and mineral products.

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Wood product manufacturing “by far the largest industry” within BC’s manufacturing sector, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the sector’s total GDP


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