Net In-migration to BC Picks Up in Q3…While Alberta Goes the Other Way

January 5, 2016
Ken Peacock

The net inflow of people coming to BC from other parts of the country jumped significantly in the third quarter of 2015. The economic downturn and energy price collapse affecting Alberta coupled with BC’s comparatively healthy economy help to explain this result.

Migration across Canada tends to exhibit strong seasonal patterns, so to compare the movement of people over time the data can be seasonally adjusted or one can simply compare the third quarter data to third quarter flows from past years. Looking just at the 2015 third quarter data highlights the most recent increase, with BC gaining a net inflow of 6,315 people from other provinces. In comparison, in the third quarter of 2014 BC recorded a gain of about 3,600 interprovincial; back in 2013 we added 1,800.

Not surprisingly, the net migration numbers to Alberta have dropped sharply. In Q3 of 2015 Alberta saw a net inflow of around 1,200 people to other provinces. In 2014, the comparable Q3 figure was 8,100 and the year before that, 10,200.

The graph below shows seasonally adjusted net interprovincial migration numbers for BC and Alberta since 2007. During the 2008/09 downturn Alberta’s interprovincial migration numbers slipped into negative territory, but they soon bounced back. The more recent decline has been from a higher level and, given the sluggish outlook for oil and natural gas prices, is not likely to recover in the same way it did before. In contrast, the seasonally adjusted figures for BC point to a steady rise in the net inflow of people from other provinces since 2012.

Looking ahead, BC is poised for further increases in the number of people migrating from other parts of the country while Alberta will likely shift to a net outflow position on interprovincial migration in 2016.

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