Issue 20-87: High Technology Profile

May 20, 2020

British Columbia’s high technology sector continued to grow in 2018, with GDP in the sector increasing 3.1%, to around $17.4 billion. Both the high tech manufacturing (+2.7%) and services (+3.1%) sectors recorded an increase in GDP. About 6.5% of B.C.’s total GDP is generated by the high technology sector.  

B.C.’s high tech sector GDP grew faster than that of the overall provincial economy, which increased by 2.7%. The tech sector has outperformed the economy as a whole in all but two years in the last decade.

In 2018, revenue in British Columbia’s high technology sector climbed 9.2%, to $34.7 billion, the highest level ever recorded. All the growth was in the service sector, where revenues increased 10.9%, as high tech manufacturing revenues dropped 1.0%.

Employment in B.C.’s high tech sector reached a new high in 2018, rising 6.2% to 123,170. Around 5.4% of British Columbia’s paid workforce was employed by the high tech sector in 2018.

Wages and salaries paid by British Columbia’s high tech sector also reached another new peak in 2018, climbing 7.6% to around $11.2 billion. Employees of B.C.’s high tech sector earned $1,740 per week, on average, compared to $970 for the average B.C. worker.

There was a total of 10,941 businesses with employees in B.C.’s high technology sector in 2018, an increase of 360 from a year earlier, which translates to a growth rate of 3.4%. About 93% of these businesses were in service sector industries.

In 2018, there was a 5.5% rise in B.C.’s exports of high tech services, to almost $6.3 billion. This comprised four-fifths of B.C.’s total high technology exports (i.e., goods plus services).

In 2018, B.C.’s exports of high technology goods increased 9.6% in value, to just over $1.4 billion. This exceeded the growth of B.C.’s overall exports, which increased 7.2%. However, the proportion of B.C.’s total exports consisting of high technology goods remained relatively unchanged, at 3.1%.

The value of B.C.’s imports of high technology services rose 6.9% in 2018, while imports of high technology goods climbed 8.1%.

In 2018, British Columbia imported over four times the value of high tech goods than it exported, resulting in a trade deficit of almost $5.7 billion. However, B.C.’s exports of high tech services was four times the value of imports, such that B.C. recorded a surplus in trade of high tech services of around $4.7 billion. Therefore, the overall deficit in trade in high technology goods and services was just under $1.0 billion.

Among Canadian provinces, British Columbia’s tech sector ranks third in GDP, revenue, employment and value of commodity exports, fourth in count of businesses, and second in average weekly earnings. British Columbia’s tech sector lags behind a large number of U.S. states, with high technology making up a far smaller share of employment and GDP in British Columbia.

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