Vancouver’s strong pre-COVID economy forecast to bounce back

New custom data from the Conference Board of Canada forecasts that Vancouver’s GDP will decline six percent in 2020 to $143 billion (contrasting sharply with a 2.8 percent increase in 2019). This same forecast predicts that Vancouver’s GDP will rebound in 2021 by 6.8 percent to $153 billion, regaining the losses seen in 2020.

There are numerous challenges associated with using GDP to assess a region or country’s economic strength. VEC continues to advocate for more comprehensive datasets from Statistics Canada and other research partners. In the meantime, please refer to VEC’s latest economic report for additional analysis on Vancouver’s economic performance and a more in-depth look into the drawbacks of GDP as a metric.
Find the October 2020 Report

Employment & Unemployment

Prior to the onset of COVID-19, Vancouver was reporting record-low unemployment levels hovering around a rate of 4%. As a result of the global pandemic, unemployment reached a high of 13.3% in July but has since fallen to 11.1% in September.

Vancouver CMA

Census metropolitan area (CMA): an area consisting of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a core

Unemployment Forecast

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Vancouver’s unemployment rate is expected to rise to 9.6% by the end of 2020. However, in 2021, the unemployment rate is predicted to be 6.9%, while still too high, is closer to our pre-COVID rate of 4-5%.

Vancouver CMA

Housing Starts

Housing starts is a useful leading indicator that can signal the wider population’s confidence in the economy. Proportionately for its size, Vancouver is building a significant number of homes in comparison to other Canadian cities.

Total Housing Starts

Economic Metrics

As one of North America’s fastest-growing low-carbon economies, Vancouver’s economy was performing exceptionally well before the global pandemic. Vancouver’s recent economic growth has been largely driven by a few key sectors – construction, technology, digital entertainment and the green economy – and has done so by becoming a model for sustainable green growth. As we look beyond GDP in measuring economic recovery, here are a few examples of the key metrics that we actively track in the pursuit of a diverse, resilient economy that helps deliver prosperity for all.

5.8%Office Vacancy RateUp 1.2% from Q3 2020CBRE Q4 2020
$1.7BHigh Impact InvestmentFacilitated by VECVEC, 2020
Top 25Startup EcosystemIn the WorldStartup Genome, 2020
#4Most Diverse EconomyIn CanadaConference Board, 2020
#1VFX & Animation HubIn the World, 2020VEC, 2020
#3Film & TV Production HubLargest in North America, 2019VEC, 2020
+39%Index of Consumer ConfidenceNov. 2020 – Jan. 2021 in BCConference Board, 2021
+9.0%Average Weekly EarningsY-on-Y in B.C.Statistics Canada, August 2020
1 in 15Jobs is a Green JobUp 35% from
2010 – 2017
VEC, 2019
$740MVenture Capitalto Vancouver Companies,
YTD Q3 2020
CVCA, Q3 2020
  • Your suggestions may help influence the data and metrics featured on this page.

Local Economic Drivers

Building a resilient economy requires a commitment to assessing all decision-making against global trends, risks and opportunities