May 2020 Economic Report Card
For a fourth consecutive month…
Employment is down sharply and unemployment is up in the Greater Regina Area. Pandemic related job losses are expected to continue through May 2020 with more layoffs/permanent furloughs and with post-secondary students entering a weak summer job market. Despite this, construction activity bounced back in the first quarter of 2020 with gains in housing starts and building permits after a very weak 2019.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was down -5.2% or -7,400 positions in January to April 2020 over the same period in 2019. These losses occurred almost entirely in full time positions (-7,250). Part time employment dropped slightly by 150 positions. Month-to-Month (April 2019 to April 2020) saw employment drop by 13,800 as government interventions (including the closure of non-essential businesses, travel restrictions, and social distancing) related to COVID-19 are making themselves more fully felt. Job losses are expected to continue through May 2020 as temporary layoffs move towards permanent furloughs and post-secondary students enter a weak summer job market.
- Year-to-date employment in April 2020 was up over the same period in 2019 in Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (1,425), Professional, scientific and technical services (1,575), Business, building and other support services (425), Information, culture and recreation (600), other services (850), and Public administration (350).
- Year-to-date employment in April 2020 was down in Agriculture (-750), Resource Extraction (-150), Utilities (-975), Manufacturing (-225), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-2525), Transportation and warehousing (-725), Educational services (-2300), Health care and social assistance (-750), and Accommodation and food services (-2175).
- Despite strong housing starts and residential building permit data, year-to-date April 2020 construction employment is down by 2,150 positions from the same period in 2019.
- The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 4.7% in April 2019 to 7.2% in April 2020. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is up 3,425 in April 2020 from April 2019. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 8,000 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.
- March 2020 total year-to-date housing starts are up by 17 units or 12.4% as the market bounces back from a very weak 2019. It should be noted that March housing start figures include only minimal pandemic impacts. Sub-categories of starts that posted increases were: singles (15 units or 27.8%) and apartment and other types (23 units or 71.9%). Year-to-date declines were noted in semi-detached (-10 units or -71.4%) and row (-11 units or -29.7%).
- Similar to housing starts, building permits are rebounding from an exceptional soft 2019 and do not fully reflect pandemic impacts. March 2020 year-to-date building permits are up 81.7% over the same period in 2019. All sub sectors posted increases: residential (15.3%), industrial (27.1%), commercial (220.6%), and institutional and governmental (7.9%).
- The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from $265,275 in April 2019 to $260,500 in April 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% 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.
- 2019 Regina Census Metropolitan Area population was up 1.9% over 2018 to 261,684 on the strength of international and intra-provincial migration. The release of 2020 data is expected in February/March 2021.
- 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.