April 2024 Surrey Labour Market Report Focuses on Surrey Indigenous Labour Force

The Surrey Board of Trade’s Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report for April 2024 is released with a special focus on Surrey’s Indigenous Labour Force.

“The labour market in Surrey is exceeding expectations with employment in Surrey in March 2024 an estimated 3.3% or 10,710 more jobs above employment in March 2023; and over 15,000 or 4.7% more than in March 2022, higher than BC’s job growth of 2.7% over the last 12 months,” said Anita Huberman, President and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “The sectors with the most negative employment change in Surrey over the last 12 months are estimated to be wholesale and retail trade, natural resources, construction and business, building and other support services.”

Surrey has the largest urban Indigenous population in BC. According to the 2021 Census, just over 2.1% of Surrey’s population identifies as Indigenous, with an estimated population size of 12,180. This number is down 10% from 2016, when the population count was estimated at 13,460.

Similarly to the population, the Indigenous labour force in Surrey has also decreased by 10%; in 2016 there were 6,330 people who identified as Indigenous in the Surrey labour force compared to 5,695 in 2021. Participation rate decreased for the Indigenous population of Surrey by 2.5%, while increasing slightly for the non-Indigenous labour force by 0.2% from 2016 to 2021. Employment rate decreased for both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population, albeit by three times more in the Indigenous population. The unemployment rate increased in both cases by a similar percentage.

Though wage data was not available at the Surrey level for the Indigenous population, when looking at BC, hourly wages have increased at a similar rate for the Indigenous labour force (23.5% increase) as for the non-Indigenous labour force (22.9% increase) from 2019 to 2023. However, it is important to note, that on average, the hourly wages for the Indigenous population are about 9.5% lower than those for the non-Indigenous population ($31.46 per hour, compared to $34.77 per hour).

When looking at Surrey employment by National Occupation Classification (NOC), the number of Indigenous employees in management occupations and sales and services occupations saw the greatest decrease. Management occupations also saw a significant decrease in non-Indigenous employees as well. Though, it is important to keep in mind that NOC codes were changed from 2016 to 2021, which is likely in part the reason for the significant decrease shown.

The greatest increase for both populations was seen in employees in the trades, transport and equipment operators occupations in Surrey. However, the second largest increase in Indigenous employees was in the manufacturing and utilities occupations and for non-Indigenous employees the second largest increase was in sales and services occupations.