March 2020 Edition
This month we look at the economic indicators just released for January and February 2020.
For a second consecutive month...
Employment is down sharply, and unemployment is up in the Greater Regina Area after a stellar 2019 with noteworthy increases in year-to-date employment. However, construction activity bounced back in the first month of 2020 with healthy gains in housing starts and building permits after a dismal 2019.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Region was down -3.1% or -4,350 positions in January to February 2020 over the same period in 2019. These losses occurred entirely in full-time positions. Part-time employment advanced slightly by 450 positions. At the provincial level, year-to-date employment increased by 4,400 or 0.8%.
- Year-to-date employment in February 2020 was up over the same period in 2019 in Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (2,300), Professional, scientific and technical services (2,050), Business, building and other support services (700), Information, culture and recreation (200), other services (1,050), and Public administration (150).
- Year-to-date employment in February 2020 was down in Agriculture (-750), Utilities (-750), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-1650), Transportation and warehousing (-1650), Educational services (-2450), Health care and social assistance (-850), and Accommodation and food services (-550).
- Despite strong housing starts and residential building permit data, year-to-date February 2020 construction employment is down by 2,250 positions from the same period in 2019.
- The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 4.7% in February 2019 to 6.4% in February 2020. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is up 2,350 in February 2020 from in February 2019. It is likely that the Regina Area is experiencing something of a “discouraged worker effect” where workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve as the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 6,000.
- January 2020, total year-to-date housing starts are up by 15 units or 28.3% year-to-date increases were observed in singles (9 units or 50.0%), row (4 units or 36.4%), and apartment and other types (6 units or 33.3%). Year-to-date declines were noted in semi-detached (-4 units or -66.7%).
- January 2020 year-to-date building permits are up 80.5% over the same period in 2018.
- All sub-sectors posted increases: residential (6.2%), industrial (2177.0%), commercial (344.2%), institutional and governmental (37.0%).
- The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from $266,200 in February 2019 to $249,800 in February 2020.
- In 2 dramatic rate cuts on March 4 and March 13 the Bank of Canada cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.75%. 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 decision on March 13 shaved a further half a 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’s economy to post a 1.9% real GDP gain in 2020, following a 1.6 percent increase in 2019.