BC Stats just released (PDF) its quarterly population estimates and BC is what we would term "sluggish" in terms of population growth.
Population growth consists of the following bulk components:
- Natural increase (births - deaths)
- Net interprovincial migration
- Net international migration
So let's look at how Q4-2010 and Q1-2011 look in a historical context (there is seasonality so quarters are best compared to each other):
The most recent Q1-2011 data indicate the lowest Q1 immigration numbers in 19 years, zero net interprovincial migration, and below-trend non-permanent resident (NPR) in-migration. Q4-2010 saw a net outflow of non-permanent residents of 7,353, who were migrating into the province in the order of 10,000 to 17,000 annually from 2007 to 2009. Now that unemployment has remained elevated for over 2 years, there is, unsurprisingly, pressure to employ local residents; as fallout from this, non-permanent residents have been sent packing.
We can also look at annual population growth to 2010:
In total, 2010 was not a strong year for population growth but nowhere as dire as the low growth witnessed in the late 1990s. We are hearing anecdotes of a weak rental market and these data would suggest that weak population growth in Q4-2010 has extended into Q1-2011 are consistent with a reduced demand for dwelling tenancy. These recent population data are what I would characterise as a somewhat bearish indicator for BC real estate.
What's really striking is that net domestic migration to BC has never come close to returning to what it was in the early 90's, and looks set to become negative again soon.
Under another Premier Clark, no less. :-)
So what would be the reasons for negative inter-provincial migration? The majority of the outflow in the late '90s was to Alberta link
Interestingly in the early '90s there was significant in migration from Ontario through about 1996. I don't have the data but it could be migration from Ontario is in part effectively immigration due to Ontario being the first port of entry for many immigrants who are ultimately destined for Vancouver.
The high dollar, high interest rates, the effects of free trade and the housing downturn all combined to make 1990-1996 a miserable period for anyone looking for a job in Ontario. B.C. was out of sync with the rest of the country having a decent economy at the time so lots of people went West.
But net interprovincial migration into BC was not historically high in the early 90s. All through the post-WWII era (except for the mid-80s, when it went negative for a while) it was at comparable levels.
As I said, what's significant is that the province has lost its historical attractiveness to Canadians from other provinces since 1995.
Particularly the idea that the province would become a magnet for boomer retirees is looking dead wrong.
Actually interprovincial migration from Ontario was high in the early '90s, during the same time as international immigration was high. Both dropped precipitously starting about 1997. I'll attempt to parse the numbers in more detail for a subsequent post. The positive correlation between Ontario in-migration and international immigration in the '90s seems high.
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