January 2021 Economic Brief

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

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 showing signs of slowing. Home construction, building permit data, and home prices remain in the positive territory, boding well for a modestly successful Q1 2021.

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Region was down -6.5% or -9,267 positions in January to December 2020 over the same period in 2019. At the provincial level, year to date employment decreased by -28,733 or -5.2%.
  • Average year-to-date employment in December 2020 was up over the same period in 2019 in Manufacturing (300), Information, culture and recreation (275), Other services (1,042), and Public administration (1,392),
  • Average year-to-date employment in December 2020 was down in Agriculture (-42), Resource Extraction (-375), Utilities (-708), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-1,400), Transportation and warehousing (-408), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-375), Professional, scientific and technical services (-242), Business, building and other support services (-667), Educational services (-733), Health care and social assistance (-425), and Accommodation and food services (-4,800).
  • Despite robust residential construction data, year-to-date December 2020 construction employment is down by 1,975 positions from the same period in 2019.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 5.1% in December 2019 to 8.0% in December 2020. Year-to-date, the average number of unemployed is up 3,875 to 11,608 in December 2020 from 7,733 December 2019. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 9,100 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.
  • November 2020, total year-to-date housing starts are up by 275 units or 69.6%. Year-to-date increases were observed in all sub-categories of starts: singles (74 units or 44.3%), semi-detached (8 units or 21.1%), row (56 units or 56.0%), and apartment and other types (137 units or 152.2%)
  • November 2020 year to date building permits are up 7.0% over the same period in 2019. Sub sectors that posted increases were limited to residential (43.0%). During the same time period industrial (-29.1%), commercial (-14.6%), and institutional and governmental (-4.3%) posted declines.
  • The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is up slightly from $243,283 in December 2019 to $245,208 in December 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 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.