PRINCE GEORGE, May 31, 2017 – The Cariboo Development Region’s economy was driven by forestry and mining in 2016. According to the CPABC Regional Check-Up, an annual economic report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia, production at sawmills increased and mines continued to operate, leading to a vibrant year of activity in the Cariboo’s goods sector. However, this was not enough to offset job losses in the service sector.
“In 2016 the goods sector added 2,000 new jobs, an unexpected turnaround for the sector after job losses over the past three years. This was largely due to 900 new hires in the forestry, fishing, mining, and oil and gas industry, which saw increased activity last year,” said Stan Mitchell, CPA, CA, partner at KPMG LLP in Prince George.
Significant technology and process upgrades made over the past decade have created efficiencies in the Cariboo’s forestry industry, and it has diversified into new areas such as engineered wood products, biofuels, and wood pellets.
“The Wood Innovation and Design Centre supports forestry by researching new uses for wood and creating new markets. We are starting to see innovative ways to manufacture and market our forestry products. For example, Duz Cho Forest Products opened its doors in 2016 and is exporting to U.S. and Asian markets. This innovative mill in Mackenzie specializes in processing pine beetle-infested logs or small diameter wood into custom-sized cants,” continued Mitchell. “Continued innovation and exploration of new markets will be important to the sustainability of our forest sector, as challenges such as the new U.S. tariff on our softwood lumber will impact the industry.”
Similar to the forestry industry, the region’s mining industry also saw increased activity in 2016, despite being hampered by depressed commodity prices. While lower commodity prices minimized mine development and exploration, the region’s three metal mines, Mount Milligan, Gibraltar, and Mount Polley, remained in operation. A late-year increase in copper prices also spurred activity at those three mines. However, the increased mining activity was not enough to make a positive impact on the region’s overall economy.
For the second consecutive year there were job losses in seven of our region’s 11 service industries. A decline of 2,600 jobs drove service sector employment down to a seven-year low of 54,200 jobs. As a result, Cariboo’s unemployment rate increased by 0.4 percentage points to 7.4 per cent, above the provincial average of 6.0 per cent. “This was the third consecutive year where our unemployment rate increased. With an outflow of residents and rising unemployment, the future of our economy will hinge on the revival of the resource industry to create more jobs and attract new residents,” continued Mitchell.
The Cariboo Development Region comprises the Cariboo and Fraser-Fort George Regional Districts, and accounts for 3.4 per cent of B.C.’s total population.
The CPABC Regional Check-Up reports look at British Columbia’s eight Development Regions as a place to work, invest, and live. The reports are available online at: www.bccheckup.com.
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for almost 35,000 CPA members and 5,000 CPA students. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.
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