February 2018 Edition
This month we look at the economic indicators just released for December 2017 and January 2018.
Regina’s economy continues to grow
with the bulk of indicators (employment, residential, commercial and industrial construction, population, gross domestic product) posting advances over the previous year. The only areas of weakness observed were in government/institutional building permits and a slowdown in year over year housing starts.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was up 2.0% or 2,800 positions in January to January 2018 over the same period in 2017. At the provincial level, year to date employment increased by 1,500 or 0.3% over the same time period.
- Year-to-date employment in January 2018 was up over the same period in 2017 in utilities (300), manufacturing (1,700), finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (600), business, building and other support services (2,500), information, culture and recreation (1,200), other services (1,100), and public administration (1,800).
- Year-to-date employment in in January 2018 was down in agriculture (-200), resource extraction (-200), transportation and warehousing (-1,700), professional, scientific and technical services (-2,300), educational services (-200), healthcare (-1,500), and accommodation and food services (-700).
- After a weak performance in 2017, construction employment bounced back in the first month of 2018. Year-to-date January construction employment is up by 200 positions from the same period in 2017.
- The average year-to-date unemployment rate is exceptionally low at 4.5%, down from 5.5% in January 2017. Year to date, the number of unemployed is also down from 8,000 in January 2017 to 6,600 in January 2018.
- Although housing starts weakened in December 2017, dropping by 90 units or 58% from December 2016, total year-to-date housing starts are up by 360 units or 23%. Starts rose from 1,563 units in January to December 2016 to 1,923 units in January to December 2017. Increases were widespread across semi-detached, row houses, and apartment units. Single detached units posted a modest year-to-date decline of 0.3%
- January to December 2017 year to date building permits are up 3.1% over the same period in 2016. Most sub sectors posted increases: residential (9.9%), industrial (17.7%), commercial (36.7%), with only government/institutional permits showing a decline (-40.5%).
- Despite low inflation, the Bank of Canada’s first interest-rate hike in seven years occurred in July, 2017. The central bank raised its overnight lending rate to 0.75 per cent from 0.5 per cent in response to higher than anticipated growth. A second hike to 1.0 percent occurred in September and a further hike to 1.25% occurred on January 17, 2018. Higher rates are expected to help to cool the housing market and slow debt-fueled purchases.
- 2017 population was up 2.4% over 2016 to 253,220on the strength of international and intraprovincial migration. This can be expected to continue through 2018 with continued employment growth spurring further in-migration.
- The Conference Board of Canada forecasts Regina’s economy to post a 2.2 per cent real GDP gain in 2018, following a 1.5 percent increase in 2017.