Employment falls at B.C.-based software companies

Hootsuite headquarters in Vancouver | Tyler Orton

Average local employment at B.C.’s largest software companies fell over the past year, indicating that B.C. is not immune to the layoffs sweeping through many North American technology companies.

Average B.C. employment declined 2.6 per cent over the past year to 410.5 employees in 2023, from 421.3 in 2022, according to data collected on BIV’s list of the biggest software companies in the province.

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This was the second time in the past five years that employment at B.C.’s largest software companies experienced a downturn.

Average B.C. employment fell 3.6 per cent in 2021 – the second year of the pandemic – but peaked in 2022, with 14.6 per-cent year-over-year growth.

The median followed a somewhat similar trend: It fell in 2021, rebounded in 2022 and fell slightly this year. Median B.C. employment declined 0.2 per cent year over year in 2023.

This was a significantly smaller drop than the year-over-year drop in average employment, which suggests that local employment at smaller companies lower on the list declined at a slower rate than staffing at larger companies higher on the list.

Two of the top five largest software companies doubled or nearly doubled in size over the past five years. Bench (No. 4) had the largest five-year growth among the top five, doubling in size to 600 employees in 2023 from 300 in 2019.

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Global Relay (No. 2) grew 96.2 per cent to 771 employees in 2023 from 393 in 2019. The remaining three companies in the top five experienced employment decline over the past five years.

MDA (No. 3) had the most impressive year-over-year local employment growth of the companies on the list: Employing grew 16.7 per cent to 700 people in 2023 from 600 in 2022.

Hootsuite (tied at No. 8) had the largest decline in local employment, which fell 30 per cent to 350 in 2023 from 500 in 2022. Nearly half of the companies on the list saw no change in local employment levels.