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Vancouver home prices could trigger labour shortage: report

Stagnating wages and soaring real estate could trigger an exodus of millennials from Metro Vancouver, according to a new report sounding the alarm about a potentially looming labour crisis.

Between 2001 and 2014, housing costs in the region increased 63 per cent while average wages for full-time workers grew only 36 per cent, Vancity’s “Help Wanted” report found.

The gap was most pronounced in Vancouver, where home resale values spiked a staggering 211 per cent over that period.

Vancity said if the trend continues, the vast majority of workers won’t be able to afford the average Metro Vancouver mortgage by the year 2025, and that could lead to a mass migration.

“More and more, people are wanting to live in the communities where they work,” Vancity vice-president of community investment Andy Broderick said in a statement.

“If these communities are not affordable, workers will look elsewhere.”

Only three of the 88 jobs deemed high-demand by the B.C. government will pay enough to afford housing in 10 years, according to the report: senior business managers, senior construction managers and engineering managers.

That would leave out everyone from lawyers to specialist doctors to firefighters.

Vancity’s report describes millennials as “very mobile and the most highly educated generation ever,” and warns many won’t hesitate to leave in pursuit of an easier path to home-ownership.

In fact, the trend may have already started: Vancouver lost 1,571 residents in the 20-30 age group in 2013, up from 770 the year before, according to Vancity.

The report recommends businesses aim to offer employees a living wage, and that local and provincial governments work together to push for more affordable housing and rental units.

To read the full “Help Wanted: salaries, affordability and the exodus of labour from Metro Vancouver” report, click here. 

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