Issue 17-57: Highlights from the B.C. Small Business Quarterly, 4th Quarter 2016

March 20, 2017

The number of small businesses in British Columbia (excluding self-employed persons) in December of 2016 was 188,057, up 1.9% from a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, new business incorporations jumped 10.8% from the level recorded in the same quarter of 2015. This boost marked the fifth consecutive double-digit year-over-year increase.

Both consumer (-21.0%) and business (-27.7%) bankruptcies were down in the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year earlier. The 34 business bankruptcies were among the lowest quarterly number recorded in recent years.

Overall employment in B.C. climbed 0.5% between the third and fourth quarters. The number of self-employed in British Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2016 was also higher (+0.3%) than in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the provincial unemployment rate averaged 6.0% in the fourth quarter, up slightly from 5.6% in the third quarter.

The number of non-residential building permits issued in British Columbia continued to experience a year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter, falling 20.4% below the number recorded in the same period of 2015.

Multiple Listing Statistics (MLS) sales were also lower in the fourth quarter, slipping 27.1% over the same quarter of 2015.

Conversely, urban housing starts in B.C. continued to climb, jumping 13.6% over the number recorded in the third quarter of 2015.

Manufacturing sales showed strength (+2.1%) in the fourth quarter, as did B.C. commodity exports, which saw a 13.8% jump between the third and fourth quarter of 2016. Both wholesale (+4.8%) and retail (+1.4%) sales were also considerably higher than in the third quarter.

Feature Article Highlights, High Technology in British Columbia

The high technology sector is particularly conducive to small business. Small start-up firms in high tech are often at the leading edge of innovation, and are crucial to the ongoing strength of the sector.

The vast majority of tech businesses are small businesses. Indeed, in 2015, there were 9,905 businesses with employees in the tech sector in B.C. in 2015, 96% of which were small businesses (with fewer than 50 employees).

In 2015, nearly 93% of B.C.’s small high tech businesses were in the service sector. Computer and related services comprise the largest industry group among small businesses in B.C.’s high technology sector, with 40% of the province’s small tech firms.

In 2015, more than two-thirds (67%) of British Columbia’s small high technology businesses were located in the Mainland/Southwest Development Region, with the bulk of those situated in Greater Vancouver.

Data Source: BC Stats, Small Business Quarterly, Fourth Quarter 2016