The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) is comprised of six member municipalities and seven electoral areas and features a variety of diverse communities, from small rural villages to the fifth largest city in British Columbia. Jobs in Fraser Valley have long been centred on the agriculture and resource industry sectors. While these sectors present an important ongoing source of jobs in Fraser Valley, the employment base has expanded and diversified and now includes a wide variety of manufacturing, aerospace, service and high-tech fields. Many of these diversified industries still have important ties to the basic sectors, especially with its increasing dependence on technology. The diversifying economy has not reached all corners of the Region. While larger communities like Abbotsford and Chilliwach develop employment outside the traditional resources sectors, other communities have experiences difficult time along with the decline in forestry and other resource-dependent industries.
Although most of the Region's jobs are concentrated within the urban areas of Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission, there are also significant numbers of jobs in Fraser Valley in the agricultural areas and smaller communities surrounding the larger urban centres. In comparing Metro Vancouver with the FVRD, it is clear that service producing industries - trade; transportation and warehousing; finance, insurance, real estate and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; business, building and other support services; educational services; health care and social assistant; information, culture and recreation; accommodation and food services; other services; and public administration - dominate in both regions. However, goods producing industries - agriculture; forestry, fishing, mining, and oil and gas extraction; utilities; construction; and manufacturing - play a much larger role in the FVRD, where they make up almost 30 percent of the labour force.
According to the 2008 Canadian Business Patterns, the top three sources for jobs in Fraser Valley are construction; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; and retail trade - together making up about 40 percent of the FVRD's business enterprises. According to the 2006 Census, industries providing the most jobs in Fraser Valley are Manufacturing (11.4%), Retail Trade (11.1%), and Health care and social assistant (9.1%).
The larger communities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission are more diversified and have a much higher share of manufacturing, retail trade and construction and often act as suppliers of commercial services to smaller communities like the District of Kent or the Electoral Areas.
Occupations in Fraser Valley experiencing the most growth from 1996-2006, according the British Columbia Statistics, are management; natural and applied sciences; health; social science, education, government service and religion; and trades, transport and equipment operators.
Nearly 45 percent of FVRD residents have some form of post-secondary qualifications and as such, educational requirements for almost all types of jobs in Fraser Valley are increasing.
The 2008-2009 recession resulted in a sharp rise in unemployment across the Lower Mainland. Particularly affected in the Lower Mainland was the construction industry. According the BC Stats, the recovery is still in its early stages as of early 2010, and it will take some time before the province makes up the ground lost since the onset of the recession. BC Stats' short term employment demand projection, Industry and Occupation Projections: 2008 to 2013 (2009), forecasts a 0.9 percent overall growth rate in employment to 2013 for the FVRD. Service industries are expected to remain the dominant growth sector for the immediate future in the region, and jobs related to health care, retail trade and accommodation and food services are the sub-groups in this sector expected to experience the most robust growth. Additionally, with the population expected to age significantly over the next few decades, jobs related to health care are not surprisingly one of the largest growth categories for jobs in Fraser Valley. Primary industries in the goods producing sector are expected to experience a slight decline in total employment over the next several years, compared to the agriculture and forestry sectors expected to steadily increase from 2008. Finally, the construction sector is projected to experience the most significant decline, at 2.2 percent from 2008 to 2013.