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The British Columbia economy is enjoying strong growth, and the good times are expected to continue through 2020, says Central 1 Credit Union in a forecast published on Thursday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in B.C. will come in at 3.5% this year, before slowing to 2.5% next year, Central 1 predicts.

After that, Central 1’s forecast sees growth re-accelerating to 3.0% in 2019, and coming in at 2.6% in 2020. Overall, B.C. looks set to meet, or exceed, the national growth rate over the period, the credit union says.

“Robust consumer demand continues to support the economy thanks to surging employment, combined with strong exports and government support,” says Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1, in a statement.

Looking ahead, the credit union’s forecast projects that unemployment will continue to trend lower, “due to changing demographics.” Specifically, Central 1 predicts that the province’s unemployment rate will remain at around 5.4% through 2018, declining to an average of about 4.5% over the next couple of years.

Against the background of a robust employment picture, coupled with strong growth and investment trends, Central 1 sees goods and services exports continuing to head higher over the next couple of years.

“Growth in goods exports, tourism, film industry, technology and business investment will be steady due to a favourable currency,” Yu says. “Government investments also remains high with large utility, transportation and public works projects.”

While the outlook for B.C. is generally positive, Central 1 also notes that there are several potential downside risks. “Forestry will drag on growth this year owing to the combined impacts of the softwood lumber trade dispute and curtailed production due to wildfires,” it cautions.

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