This month we look at the economic indicators just released for April and May 2019.
The Greater Regina Area labour market continues to improve…
In the first five months of 2019 with sharp increases in year-to-date employment in tandem with drops in both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate. Despite strong job numbers, all other monthly indicators declined in April 2019. The construction sector was particularly soft with severe declines in both housing starts and building permits, however, declines in row and semi-detached housing starts and industrial building permits are slowing.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was up 1.2% or 1,700 positions in January to May 2019 over the same period in 2018. At the provincial level, year-to-date employment increased by 11,000 or 2.0%.
- Year-to-date employment in May 2019 was up over the same period in 2018 in Agriculture (680), Resource Extraction (380), Transportation and warehousing (1,640), Educational services (1,280), Accommodation and food services (1,160), Other services (520), and Public administration (760).
- Year-to-date employment in May 2019 was down in Manufacturing (-380), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-500), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-820), Professional, scientific and technical services (-1220), Business, building and other support services (-600), and Information, culture and recreation (-460).
- Construction employment bounced back in 2018 and the first month of 2019 after a weak 2017. However, these gains were reversed in the remainder of 2019 with year-to-date May construction employment down by 1,400 positions from the same period in 2018.
- The average year-to-date unemployment rate dropped from 5.4% to 4.6% in May 2019. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is down 1,160 in May 2019 from May 2018. In addition, drops in the participation rate (those working and seeking work expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over), the employment rate (number of employed persons expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over), and an increases in the number of those of working age not in the labour force are showing signs of slowing in April and May.
- April 2019, total year-to-date housing starts are down by -374 units or -68.5%. Year-to-date declines were noted in singles (-60 units or -48.4%), row (-12 units or -19.0%), apartment and other types (-302 units or -88.6%). Year-to-date semi-detached starts were even with 2018 at 18 units.
- April 2019 year to date building permits, a leading indicator of construction activity, are down -52.2% over the same period in 2018. Declines were widespread and occurred across all sub-sectors: residential (-53.5%), industrial (-58.0%), commercial (-26.2%), and institutional and governmental (-86.5%).
- The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from $276,480 in May 2018 to $264,440 in May 2019.
- With the pace of GDP growth at the national level suggesting that the economy is operating at close to full capacity, the Bank of Canada raised the overnight rate to 1.75% on October 24, 2018, the highest rate since December 2008. However, the Bank of Canada held the rate at this level in May 2019 with ongoing uncertainty related to trade conflicts. The next rate announcement is July 10, 2019.
- 2018 Regina Census Metropolitan Area population was up 2.3% over 2017 to 257,337 on the strength of international and intra-provincial migration. This can be expected to continue through 2019 with continued employment growth spurring further in-migration.
- The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Regina’s economy to post a 1.7% real GDP gain in 2019, following a 1.0% increase in 2018.