This month we look at the economic indicators just released for March and April 2019.
The labour market continued to improve dramatically…
in the first four months of 2019 with year-to-date employment growing in sync with drops in both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate. Despite this turnaround, all other monthly indicators declined in March 2019. The construction sector was particularly soft with sharp drops in both housing starts and building permits, however, declines in row housing starts and commercial building permits are slowing.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was up 0.9% or 1,225 positions in January to April 2019 over the same period in 2018. At the provincial level, year-to-date employment increased by 10,175 or 1.8%.
- Year-to-date employment in April 2019 was up over the same period in 2018 in Agriculture (600), Resource Extraction (350), Utilities (625), Transportation and warehousing (1,850), Educational services (1,600), Health care and social assistance (525), Accommodation and food services (950), Other services (600), and Public administration (325).
- Year-to-date employment in April 2019 was down in Manufacturing (-650), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-625), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-1075), Professional, scientific and technical services (-1175), Business, building and other support services (-700), and Information, culture and recreation (-575).
- After a weak performance in 2017, construction employment bounced back in 2018 and through January 2019. However, year-to-date April construction employment is down by almost by 1,225 positions from the same period in 2018.
- The average year-to-date unemployment rate dropped from 5.2% to 4.7% in April 2019. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is down 725 in April 2019 from April 2018. Despite growing employment numbers and declining number of unemployed, the labour market picture for the region is not completely positive. 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 increase in the number of those of working age not in the labour force are worrisome. It should be noted, however, that the decline in the participation rate and employment rate and the increase of those not in the labour force are showing signs of slowing in April.
- March 2019, total year-to-date housing starts are down by -349 units or -71.8%. Year-to-date declines were noted in singles (-46 units or -46.0% ), row (-5 units or -11.9%), apartment and other types (-298 units or -90.3%). Year-to-date semi-detached starts were even with 2018 at 14 units.
- March 2019 year-to-date building permits, a leading indicator of construction activity, are down -47.9% over the same period in 2018. Declines were widespread and occurred across all sub-sectors: Residential (-39.8%), industrial (-79.2%), commercial (-1.2%), and institutional and governmental (-89.8%).
- The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from $276,275 in April 2018 to $263,925 in April 2019.
- In 2018, 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 by 0.25% 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 April 2019 citing uncertainty stemming from a sudden and unexpected deceleration in GDP growth in the final quarter of 2018 and global economic growth slowing due to ongoing uncertainty related to trade conflicts. The next rate announcement is May 29, 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.