VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – BC’s economic fundamentals remain strong, even as our pace of growth slows this year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The think-tank predicts BC’s economy will expand by 2.4 per cent this year and a “solid” 3.4 per cent next year. It notes forestry is expected to grow in the near term, as US housing market conditions improve, while mining “will continue to benefit from increased production of shale gas.”

The board expects “the construction sector will be weak this year, due to a sharp decline in government investment.” But its spring provincial outlook also says construction “will rebound strongly in 2013 thanks to surging business investment.”

It says businesses will have to hire more people, leading to a two per cent employment gain this year. That, in turn, is expected to push wages 2.6 per cent higher this year and next.

The board adds that “thanks in part to the scrapping of the harmonized sales tax, employees in BC will enjoy strong real income gains.”