Issue 16-214: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 2015

November 10, 2016

Gross domestic product at market prices

British Columbia’s economy (chained GDP, in 2007 dollars) expanded 3.3% in 2015, posting the strongest growth among the provinces. Ontario (+2.5%), New Brunswick (+2.3%) and Manitoba (+2.2%) also made solid gains during the year. The Canadian economy grew just 0.9%, as Alberta (-3.6%), Newfoundland (-2.0%) and Saskatchewan (-1.3%) slipped into recession. All three provinces were affected by the downturn in the energy sector.

Nationally, business investment in new structures and equipment fell 6.2%, as spending was down in seven provinces, including British Columbia (-0.9%). Alberta (-20.9%) and Saskatchewan (-19.1%) both saw double-digit declines. Ontario (+6.5%), Manitoba (+2.3%) and New Brunswick (+2.1%) were the only provinces to buck the general downward trend in business investment.

In British Columbia, final domestic demand rose (+2.3%), but at a slower pace than in 2014, when total consumption expenditures by households, businesses, governments and non-profit institutions were up 3.2%. Household spending continued to climb, increasing 3.1% during the year as consumer purchases of durable goods surged (+7.1%) for a second straight year. Government final consumption expenditures were up 2.8%, while non-profit institutions increased their spending by 1.7%.

Investment in fixed capital fell (-0.3%) as a 0.9% reduction in business investment was only partly offset by increased government spending (+3.1%). There were double-digit declines in spending on new non-residential structures (-11.2%) and investment in intellectual property products (-13.1%) such as mineral exploration and development, while spending on machinery and equipment inched down 0.2%. At the same time, investment in residential structures continued to climb, rising 9.1%.

The value of British Columbia’s exports of goods and services advanced 2.8% during the year, with sales to other countries (+3.9%) increasing nearly three times as much as sales to other provinces (+1.4%). B.C. was the only province to see an increase in the value of goods and services exported to other parts of the country. Imports of goods and services rose only marginally (+0.3%). International imports were up 2.5%, but purchases of goods and services produced in other parts of Canada were 2.5% lower than in 2014.

Gross domestic product by industry

In the industry account, GDP growth was largely concentrated in the service sector, which expanded 4.0% during the year. The goods producing industries did not fare as well, inching ahead just 0.1% during the year.

Mining and quarrying in the province was down 10.9%, reflecting weakness in the coal (-13.6%) and metal ore (-10.1%) mining industries. While support activities (such as drilling) dropped 39.4%, oil and gas extraction expanded 5.2% during the year.

The construction industry also contracted (-0.5%), largely due to a decline in engineering construction (-15.1%), especially oil and gas engineering construction (-30.3%).

In the manufacturing industry, GDP rose 2.2%, well above the 0.3% increase posted at the national level. Wood (+4.8%) and paper (+1.1%) manufacturing expanded, but not as much as in 2014. Crop and animal production (+9.6%), forestry and logging (+8.1%), and utilities (+4.6%) all advanced during the year.

Most service sector industries posted solid gains during 2015. Retail trade expanded 5.7% while GDP in the wholesale industry was 2.0% higher than in 2014. Transportation and warehousing continued to pick up speed (+5.7%), as did finance and insurance (+5.8%) and real estate, rental and leasing (+5.4%). Education (+7.3%), arts, entertainment and recreation (+5.1%), accommodation and food services (+3.7%), professional, scientific and technical services (+3.5%) and health care and social services (+1.6%) also helped boost overall growth in the service sector.

Data Source: Statistics Canada

Data available on the BC Stats British Columbia Economic Accounts page.