Friday, September 27, 2013

BC Population Growth to Q2 2013

BC Stats released its quarterly population estimates yesterday. Population growth consists of the following bulk components:
  • Natural increase (births - deaths)
  • Net interprovincial migration
  • Net international migration (including permanent and non-permanent residents (NPRs))
So let's look at how recent quarters look in a historical context, here graphed since 1961 to show longer-term trends (there is seasonality so quarters are best compared to each other, also do not integrate these graphs, the total population is periodically adjusted during census counts). 4 quarter rolling averages are shown.

Since 2008, net NPRs have been contributing a level of population growth approaching that of the natural increase. From datasets "Total entries of foreign workers by province or territory and urban area" and "Total entries of foreign students by province or territory and urban area", the following data on foreign worker student, and humanitarian components of NPR entries in BC:

2012 Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW), Student, and Humanitarian Entries in Vancouver and BC
VancouverBC% Vancouver of BC
Total In343867733344%
Total Out*-69491-
% net of total in-10%-
* estimate by subtracting Net from Total In.

The influx of NPRs to BC was around 77,000 in 2012, however the outflux was around 69,000. According to CANSIM 051-0020 there were 151,637 NPRs in BC as of January 1, 2013, which approximately aligns with integrating historical net NPRs from the population growth estimates. NPRs have comprised 19% of the province's total population growth since the beginning of 2008.


Arnold Shuchat said...

It is good to see the hard numbers instead of picking up all the speculative chatter about "whether they are coming or leaving".

What seems interesting to me was an appararent 12-14 year pattern from trough to trough which repeated itself since the '60s.
From the looks of it, from a purely technical viewpoint, one could opine that were history to repeat itself the "Net" number should just about be starting to increase again.
The question is, what has caused the cycle and whether such factor(s) are in place to see it repeat at this time.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
Arnold Shuchat

jesse said...

Arnold, thanks for the comment. I'll try to quickly(ish) summarize a thought on why population growth is cyclical.

When population growth starts to rise it requires more dwellings and workers to build those dwellings. Dwellings are built for housing new entrants as well as the workers to build the housing. This feeds on itself on the way up.

Once the housing is built the workers need to find other work. If no other work is available they will eventually migrate out, leaving an empty dwelling. This feeds itself on the way down.

The cyclical nature of housing in places like BC is in large part because housing needs to be overbuilt to house the builders. Once those builders return "home" they leave empty houses. This cycle takes 10-15 years, so I argue.

Not to say that other cycles aren't at play, but the large exodus from Ontario in the mid-1990s was in part because of their housing bust around the same time, and BC was a big recipient. Sure enough, after BC's housing market hit a soft patch in the late 1990s, population growth (especially interprovincial migration) began to ebb.