Issue 18-50: Small Business Quarterly

March 12, 2018


There were 190,400 small businesses in British Columbia (excluding self-employed persons) in December of 2017, a 1.2% increase from a year earlier.

There was a 5.3% rise year-over-year in incorporations of businesses in the fourth quarter of 2017. In the same period, business bankruptcies fell 41.2% while consumer bankruptcies also declined by 8.2%.


B.C.’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in the fourth quarter of 2017, lower than the 5.0% observed in the third quarter. 

The decline in the unemployment rate was due to an increase in employment of 0.2% accompanied by a decrease in the labour force (-0.1%) in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter. Self-employment also grew in the fourth quarter of 2017, rising 1.5% quarter-over-quarter. The participation rate averaged 65.2% in the fourth quarter, down from the 65.4% registered the prior quarter.

Housing and Construction

The value of building permits issued in B.C. jumped 22.5% in the fourth quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier. Both residential (+10.7%) and non-residential (+63.7%) permits increased.

B.C.’s urban housing starts increased by 37.6%, while Multiple Listing Statistics (MLS) sales rose by 39.3% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2017.


B.C.’s commodity exports went up by 2.4% in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter, while manufacturing sales grew 3.3% over the same period.

Although retail (+1.4%) sales also registered growth from the third to fourth quarters, wholesales fell by 2.0%.

Prices and Rates

B.C.’s inflation rate (as measured by the CPI) climbed 2.2% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) grew by 2.3% in the same period.

The complete Small Business Quarterly Report along with feature article “A Profile of the Manufacturing Industry in British Columbia” is now available for download.

Data Source: BC Stats