B.C. economy to grow in face of global turmoil

Credit Union sees three per cent growth for province, while poll finds pessimistic residents hunkering down

Growth in the B.C. economy is forecast at at least three per cent in 2016 and beyond despite a downturn in global markets that has fueled consumer pessimism.

B.C.’s economy is forecast to grow at a healthy clip of three per cent this year despite growing global financial uncertainty that has seen stock markets plunge and the Canadian dollar swoon in tandem with the dive in oil prices.

That prediction comes from Central 1 Credit Union senior economist Bryan Yu, who says the province will lead Canada in growth and should weather the global economic turmoil well, thanks to improved exports and tourism due to the weak loonie.

“B.C. will continue to benefit from low interest rates and a lower currency, despite challenges presented by a weak commodity sector,” Yu said. “Lifted by household demand and housing investment, economic growth will ease slightly from 2015 but remain moderate.”

Yu also expects economic growth to average three per cent from 2017 on, with steady consumer activity and higher business investment tied to major project construction.

His forecast assumes one large liquefied natural gas terminal will be built in B.C. and Yu cautioned growth would be slower at about 2.5 per cent and unemployment higher by 0.5 per cent if a new LNG plant fails to materialize.

He predicts unemployment will edge up slightly in 2016 to 6.3 per cent before declining in subsequent years.

The forecast is in contrast to a new Insights West poll that shows B.C. residents have become considerably more pessimistic about the economy and many are adopting a frugal mindset as they hunker down for financial trouble.

Two-in-five of those surveyed expect B.C.’s economy to decline and at least 40 per cent said they plan to slash spending on entertainment, new clothes or dining out to prepare for tougher times.

The poll found 93 per cent expect to pay more for groceries over the next six months and 71 per cent expect higher real estate prices.

Nearly half of respondents said they’ve worried frequently or occasionally about the value of their investments.