March 2021 Economic Brief

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

Executive Summary

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. While pandemic related labour market contractions are expected to continue through 2021 until a full vaccine rollout occurs, home construction saw a temporary setback, public sector building permits exhibited strength in January as did home prices

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Region was down -1.6% or -2,150 positions in February 2020 to February 2021 over the same period in 2020. At the provincial level, year to date employment decreased -23,750 or -4.4%
  • Average year-to-date employment in February 2021 was up over the same period in 2020 in Agriculture (600), Utilities (750), Manufacturing (100), Wholesale and Retail Trade (1,450), Business, building and other support services (150), Educational services (900), Health care and social assistance (1,350), and Public administration (3,100).
  • Average year-to-date employment in February 2021 was down in Resource Extraction (-350), Transportation and warehousing (-900), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-2,650), Professional, scientific and technical services (-700), Information, culture and recreation (-2,800), Accommodation and food services (-2,150), and other services (-950).
  • Year-to-date February 2021 construction employment is up by 150 positions from the same period in 2020.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 6.6% in February 2020 to 7.9% in February 2021. Year-to-date, the average number of unemployed is up 1,850 to 11,350 in February 2021 from 9,500 February 2020. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 2,850 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.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
  • January 2021, total year-to-date housing starts are down -18 units or -26.5%. Rather than a sharp drop of in 2021 starts, it should be noted that 2020 data was led by an unexpected surge in row units. With record low mortgage rates, pent up demand, and low inventories, the January 2021 decline is not expected to persist for the remainder of the quarter. Within starts, Year-to-date increases were limited to semi-detached (6 units or 300.0%). Year-to-date declines were noted in singles (-7 or -25.9%), row (-15 units or -100.0%), and apartment and other types (-2 units or -8.3%),
  • January 2021 year to date building permits are down -38.5% over the same period in 2020. Sub sectors that posted increases were: institutional and governmental (630.4%). During the same time period residential (-8.7%), industrial (-100.0%), and commercial (-86.3%) 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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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.