September 2019 Economic Report Card

This month we look at the economic indicators just released for July and August 2019.

The Greater Regina Area labour market continues to advance…

In the first 8 months of 2019 with substantive increases in year-to-date employment and drops in both the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate. All other monthly indicators declined in July 2019, despite a strong labour market, with only commercial building permits showing any signs of life.

  • Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was up 1.9% or 2,638 positions in January to August 2019 over the same period in 2018. At the provincial level, year-to-date employment increased by 11,175 or 2.0%.
  • Year-to-date employment in August 2019 was up over the same period in 2018 in Agriculture (713), Resource Extraction (725), Utilities (675), Manufacturing (75), Transportation and warehousing (963), Educational services (338), Accommodation and food services (1,775), Other services (225), and Public Administration (950).
  • Year-to-date employment in August 2019 was down in Wholesale and Retail Trade (-313), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-263), Professional, scientific and technical services (-1163), Business, building and other support services (-350), Health care and social assistance (-263), and Information, culture and recreation (-25).
  • Construction employment bounced back in 2018 after a weak 2017. However, with year-to-date August 2019 construction employment down by 1,375 positions from the same period in 2018, these gains have been reversed.
  • The average year-to-date unemployment rate dropped from 5.9% to 4.9% in August 2019. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is down 1,400 in August 2019 from August 2018 with the bulk of these being absorbed by the employed labour force. In addition, drops in the participation rate (those working and seeking work expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over) and an increases in the number of those of working age not in the labour force have been slowing over the course of 2019. At the same time, the employment rate (number of employed persons expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over) is even with 2018 at 67.8%
  • July 2019, total year-to-date housing starts are down by -503 units or -63.5% as the market continues to struggle with over supply and tighter mortgage rules. Year-to-date declines were widespread and across all sub-categories: singles (-102 units or -45.9%), semi-detached (-28 units or -50%), row (-51 units or -42.1%), and apartment and other types (-322 units or -81.9%).
  • July 2019 year-to-date building permits are down -24.9% over the same period in 2018. Sub sectors that posted increases were limited to commercial (32.6%). During the same time period, residential (-42.5%), industrial (-10.4%), and institutional and governmental (-66.0%), posted declines.
  • The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from $277,975 in August 2018 to $266,113 in August 2019.
  • As expected, the Bank of Canada held its overnight rate steady in its September 2019 rate announcement with an inflation remaining in its target range. However, there are downside risks ahead with higher US-China tariff rates scheduled for mid-December. The next announcement on the overnight rate target is October 30, 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 2.3 per cent real GDP gain in 2019, following a 0.8 percent increase in 2018.