BC's Annual Net Interprovincial Migration is negative for the first time since 2002
by William Warren Munroe, April 6, 2012

The 2011 fourth quarter estimates of the factors of population change have recently been released by Statistics Canada. Changes to the natural change (births minus deaths) and migration (in and out of provinces) provide insight into fundamental economic and social changes occurring across Canada.

Net interprovincial migration is an excellent indicator of economic activity. When economic activity increases, net migration tends to be increasingly positive as out-migration slows and in-migration rises. During downturns in economic activity, out-migration rises while in-migration declines.

Figure #1: Net Interprovincial Migration, BC, 1971 to 2011

Over the 40 years between 1971 and 2011, BC experienced several booms and busts. The most recent “boom” peaked in around 2007 with less than half the positive net migration (~17,000) compared to previous “booms” (~ 40,000). BC's net inter-provincial migration became negative again in 2011 with an estimated 53,700 people moving in, while an estimated 55,700 moved out.

Boom and bust cycles tend to be steeper in areas dependant on raw resource exports, with little secondary or tertiary refinement. BC's high dependence on resource extraction, transport and warehousing, and the relatively low levels of refinement, manufacturing, and industrial activity result in greater fluctuations in economic activity - with high in and high out flows.

The preference for less industry and manufacturing, in favour of more tourism and retirement in BC is an orientation that will likely result in many young adults continuing to move to other parts of the country, especially Alberta, while BC attracts more retirees.

Alternatives to resource extraction and refinement, as well as alternatives to providing services for tourists and retirees, such as high paying jobs in the global knowledge economy may provide opportunities that reduce the fluctuations in economic activity.


Quarterly population estimates and factors of growth, provincial perspective - British Columbia

Table 3-11 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-002-x/2011004/t344-eng.htm



Quarterly Demographic Estimates


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