Despite export growth, port jobs decline slightly and move to the suburbs

Port Metro Vancouver likes to remind us how many jobs it supports, both here and across Canada, but a Feb. 1 presentation to Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning and Agriculture Committee dug deeper to reveal some interesting facts.

Simon Fraser profession Peter Hall analyzed where port jobs were located, both in the region and the supply chain, using data covering a 15-year period ending in 2006.

While the number of containers handled quintupled, employment directly related to the port actually declined. Jobs in rail, at dockside and trucking all declined. Employment increased in warehousing and FTA (Freight Transport Arrangement, which includes freight forwarders or customs brokers, shipping agents and related activities), but not enough to make up the losses.

What’s more, the huge concentration of jobs once located in Vancouver is now more evenly distributed across the region. This reflects profound changes in the way exports move, with a much larger role for warehousing and other facilities no longer at dockside.

As Hall concludes, regional planning needs to take into account this rapidly shifting reality: the port extends far inland.