December 2020 Economic Brief

This month we look at the economic indicators released for November 2020.

Executive Summary

While pandemic related labour market contractions are expected to continue through remainder of 2020 as more layoffs become permanent furloughs, job losses are showing signs of slowing. Employment was up 1,100 comparing November 2020 to November 2019, the first year over year increase in 12 months. This follows job losses in previous months: a 13,800 decline (April 2020 vs. April 2019), a decline of 20,500 (May 2020 vs. May 2019), a decline of 22,400 (June 2020 vs. June 2019), a decline of 16,200 (July 2020 vs. July 2019), a decline of 12,300 (August 2020 vs. August 2019), a decline of 6,400 (September 2020 vs September 2019), and a further decline of 4,000 (October 2020 vs. October 2019). Although the majority of indicators are in decline, housing starts and residential building permits, a leading indicator of home construction, were bright spots.

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Region was down -7.0% or -10,027 positions in January to November 2020 over the same period in 2019. At the provincial level, year to date employment decreased by -28,827 or -5.0%.
  • Average year-to-date employment in November 2020 was up over the same period in 2019 in Manufacturing (264), Information, culture and recreation (464), other services (1,236), and Public administration (1,173).
  • Average year-to-date employment in November 2020 was down in Agriculture (-282), Resource Extraction (-409), Utilities (-855), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-1,764), Transportation and warehousing (-436), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-200), Professional, scientific and technical services (-182), Business, building and other support services (-673), Educational services (-764), Health care and social assistance (-491), and Accommodation and food services (-4,927).
  • Despite robust residential construction data, year-to-date November 2020 construction employment is down by 2,209 positions from the same period in 2019.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 5.1% in November 2019 to 8.3% in November 2020. Year-to-date, the average number of unemployed is up 4,200 to 11,900 in November 2020 from 7,700 November 2019. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 9,580 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.
  • Reflecting pent up demand and low inventories, October 2020, total year-to-date housing starts are up by 101 units or 22.3%. Year-to-date increases were observed in singles (10 units or 5.0%), row (42 units or 42.0%), apartment and other types (51 units or 44.3%). Year-to-date declines were limited to semi-detached (-2 units or -5.3%).
  • October 2020 year to date building permits are down -17.0% over the same period in 2019. Sub sectors that posted increases were limited to residential (10.5%). During the same time period, industrial (-62.9%), Commercial (-27.8%), and institutional and governmental (-18.6%) posted declines.
  • The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is up from $243,882 in November 2019 to $244,618 in November 2020.
  • In 3 dramatic rate cuts on March 4, March 13, and March 27, the Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.25%. The central bank already cut its rate to 1.25 per cent 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. The Bank of Canada will likely keep its benchmark rate near zero in the medium term to spur post pandemic economic activity.
  • 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.

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For Additional Commentary

The Economic Report Card is a joint initiative between Economic Development Regina Inc., Praxis Consulting, and SJ Research Services. It provides a concise report of key economic indicators for the Greater Regina Area, updated monthly.