Region’s economy slows to a simmer

Global uncertainty hits Greater Victoria, says chamber

Global uncertainty hits Greater Victoria, says chamber

Greater Victoria’s economic growth rate has slumped by as much as one half of what it was prior to the global recession that has crippled cities in other industrial countries, according to the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

Economic growth has shrunk to “a modest two to three per cent” compared to the pre-recession growth rate in Greater Victoria of about four per cent, said Bruce Carter, chamber CEO.

But that’s still large growth compared to many American cities where shopping centres are devoid of customers and stores, and unemployment is nine per cent or higher, he said.

He considers the Capital Region’s six-per-cent jobless rate almost full employment, with many employers complaining they can’t find qualified and experienced workers to fill vacancies.

Carter said employers have told him Greater Victoria’s high housing prices make it difficult to recruit workers from outside the region.

Global economic uncertainty has hammered consumer confidence here and elsewhere, he said, meaning people are spending less and are more careful — making it “a little tougher on the retail side.”

That means “margins are tight” and “everybody is sharpening their pencils” to reduce costs to compensate for lower profits, Carter added.

The tightening economy has affected chamber membership, which Carter said has shrunk slightly and now sits at about 1,500 members out of about 8,000 businesses that serve the region.

However, the region’s strong housing sector and continuous growth in the ever-expanding technology sector, combined with the good summer results for the local tourist accommodation industry, show Greater Victoria is in pretty good shape, Carter said.