August 2020 Economic Brief

For a seventh consecutive month…

Employment is down sharply and unemployment is up in the Greater Regina Area. Pandemic related job losses are expected to continue through remainder of 2020 with more layoffs/permanent furloughs. After correcting itself in the first part of 2020 after a soft 2019, Construction activity is beginning to feel the impact of the pandemic with both housing starts and building permits increasing at a steadily declining rate.

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was down -8.8% or -12,671 positions in January to July 2020 over the same period in 2019. At the provincial level, year-to-date employment decreased by -33,071 or -5.8% over the same time period. Regina Area job losses occurred largely in full time positions (-9,800). Part time employment dropped by 2,800 positions. Month-to-month (July 2019 to July 2020) saw employment drop by 16,200. June 2019 to June 2020 saw employment drop by 22,400 indicating that job losses may be slowing.
  • Year-to-date employment in July 2020 was up over the same period in 2019 in Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (414), Professional, scientific and technical services (386), Information, culture and recreation (586), other services (1,100), and Public administration (429).
  • Year-to-date employment in July 2020 was down in Agriculture (-549), Resource Extraction (-429), Utilities (-1,200), Manufacturing (-343), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-3,543), Transportation and warehousing (-343), Business, building and other support services (-286), Educational services (-1257), Health care and social assistance (-243), and Accommodation and food services (-4,614).
  • Reflecting slowing housing and building permit data, year-to-date July 2020 construction employment is down by 2,657 positions from the same period in 2019.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 4.8% in July 2019 to 8.9% in July 2020. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is up 5,457 in July from July 2019. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 11,200 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.
  • July 2020 total year-to-date housing starts are up by 36 units or 13.6%, rebounding from a weak 2019 and reflecting pent up demand. It should be noted that starts are increasing at a slowing rate. Year-to-date increases were observed in singles (10 units or 9.9%), semi-detached (4 units or 16.7%), and apartment and other types (46 units or 65.7%). Year-to-date declines were noted in row (-24 units or -34.3%).
  • Following much of the same growth profile as housing starts, building permits are increasing but at a slowing rate. July 2020 year-to-date building permits are up -6.6% over the same period in 2019. Sub sectors that posted increases were limited to residential (8.8%). During the same time period industrial (-38.1%), commercial (-9.7%), and institutional and governmental (-45.5%) posted declines.
  • The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is up slightly from $266,729 in July 2019 to $267,686 in July 2020.
  • The Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.25%. In 3 rate cuts on March 4, March 13, and March 27. The central bank already cut its rate to 1.25% at a previously scheduled meeting on March 4 to help counteract the impact of the coronavirus. The unscheduled rate decisions on March 13 and 27 shaved a further percentage point from the rate as a proactive measure to boost the economy amid COVID-19 fears.
  • 2019 Regina Census Metropolitan Area population was up 1.9% over 2018 to 261,684 on the strength of international and intra-provincial migration. The release of 2020 data is expected in February/March 2021.
  • The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Regina real GDP to drop by 4.6% in 2020 after easing by 0.1% in 2019. Real GDP is expected to advance by 5.4% in 2021.