February 2021 Economic Brief

This month we look at the economic indicators released for January 2021.

Executive Summary

While pandemic related labour market contractions are expected to continue through 2021 until a full vaccine rollout occurs, job losses in the Regina region are, so far in 2021, showing signs of slowing and, on a percentage basis, are significantly lower than those experienced at the provincial level. Home construction, residential building permit data, and home prices ended 2020 in positive territory, setting the stage for a modestly successful Q1 2021.

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Region was down -1.0% or -1,300 positions in January 2020 to January 2021 over the same period in 2020. At the provincial level, year to date employment decreased by -24,800 or -4.6%.
  • Average year-to-date employment in January 2021 was up over the same period in 2020 in Agriculture (700), Utilities (900), Manufacturing (400), Wholesale and Retail Trade (1,600), Business, building and other support services (100), Educational services (300), Health care and social assistance (1,200), and Public administration (3,800).
  • Average year-to-date employment in January 2021 was down in Resource Extraction (-200), Transportation and warehousing (-700), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-2,700), Professional, scientific and technical services (-900), Information, culture and recreation (-2,500), Accommodation and food services (-2,400), and other services (-800).
  • Reflecting a modest bounce back from soft 2020 figures and robust residential construction data, year-to-date January 2021 construction employment is up by 200 positions from the same period in 2020.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 6.6% in January 2020 to 7.3% in January 2021. Year-to-date, the average number of unemployed is up 1,000 to 10,500 in January 2021 from 9,500 January 2020. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 2,800 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve. Both increases in the number of unemployed and those of labour force age not in the labour force are, so far in 2021, notably lower than those experienced in 2020
  • Reflecting low inventories and pent-up demand, December 2020, total year-to-date housing starts are up by 229 units or 42.6%. Year-to-date increases were widespread and across all sub-categories: singles (40 units or 16.1%), semi-detached (20 units or 52.6%), row (40 units or 34.5%), and apartment and other types (129 units or 95.6%).
  • December 2020 year to date building permits are down -19.3% over the same period in 2019. Sub sectors that posted increases were limited to residential (17.5%). During the same time period industrial (-54.8%), commercial (-39.8%), institutional and governmental (-18.5%) all posted declines.
  • The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Composite Price is up slightly from $228,800 in January 2020 to $246,600 in January 2021.
  • 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 2,319 or 0.9% from 260,865 in 2019 to 263,184 in 2020. Slowing population growth was due to travel restrictions and their impact on international in-migration and weaker than expected inter-provincial net migration.
  • 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.