May 2018 Edition
This month we look at the economic indicators just released for March and April 2018.
The Regina economy continues to grow
In the first four months of 2018, although at a slowing pace. While some key indicators (year-to-date employment, residential construction, population, and gross domestic product) posted advances over the previous year, weaknesses were observed building permits, year over year employment, a slowing decline in the year to date unemployment rate and the number of unemployed, and in non-apartment housing starts.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was up 0.5% or 650 positions in January to April 2018 over the same period in 2017. At the provincial level, year to date employment dropped by -1650 or -0.3%. Despite growth in year-to-date Regina employment, year over year employment (April 2018 vs April 2017) dropped by 500 persons.
- Year-to-date employment in April 2018 was up over the same period in 2017 in Utilities (350), Manufacturing (400 ), Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (875), Business, building and other support services (2,100), Educational services (550), Information, culture and recreation (200), Other services (1,100), and Public administration (325).
- Year-to-date employment in April 2018 was down in Agriculture (-650), Resource Extraction (-100), Wholesale and Retail Trade (-400), Transportation and warehousing (-1575), Professional, scientific and technical services (-2000), Health care and social Assistance (-1700), and Accommodation and food services (-300).
- After a weak performance in 2017, construction employment bounced back in the first 3 months of 2018. Year-to-date April construction employment is up by 1,275 positions from the same period in 2017 on the strength of residential and Regina by-pass construction.
- Drops in the unemployment rate and number of unemployed are slowing. The average year-to-date unemployment rate remains low at 5.2%, down from 5.3% in April 2017. Year to date, the number of unemployed is also down from 7,775 in April 2017 to 7,700 in April 2018.
- March 2018 total year-to-date housing starts are up by 89 units or 22.4%. Year-to-date increases were observed in apartment and other types 233 units or 240.2%. Year-to-date declines were noted in singles (-46 units or -31.5%), semi-detached (-82 units or -85.4%) and row (-16 units or -27.6%).
- March 2018 year to date building permits are down -11.9% over the same period in 2017. Sub sectors that posted increases were: industrial (184.2%) and institutional and governmental (14.4%). During the same time period residential (-20.4%) and commercial (-37.6%) posted declines.
- Despite low inflation, the Bank of Canada’s first interest-rate hike in seven years occurred in July, 2017 followed by a second hike to 1.0 percent in September and a further hike to 1.25% on January 17, 2018. Higher rates are expected to help to cool the housing market and slow debt-fueled purchases. However, March 2018 commentary by the Bank of Canada suggest the pace of interest rates hikes may become more gradual as the economy expands without triggering inflation.
- 2017 Regina Census Metropolitan Area population was up 2.4% over 2016 to 253,220 on the strength of international and intraprovincial migration. This can be expected to continue through 2018 with continued, although slowing, employment growth spurring further in-migration.
- The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Regina’s economy to post a 2.2% real GDP gain in 2018, following a 1.5 percent increase in 2017.