June 2020 Edition
This month we look at the economic indicators just released for April and May 2020.
For additional commentary, read EDR’s blog post on May economic numbers.
For a fifth consecutive month...
Employment is down sharply and unemployment is up in the Greater Regina Area. Pandemic related job losses are expected to continue through June 2020 with more layoffs/permanent furloughs and with more students entering a weak summer job market. Construction activity bounced back in the first 4 months of 2020 after a very weak 2019. Gains in housing starts and building permits, not reflected in the employment data.
- Total employment in the Greater Regina Area was down -7.0% or -10,020 positions in January to May 2020 over the same period in 2019. At the provincial level, year-to-date employment decreased by -31,880 or -5.6%. These losses occurred almost entirely in full time positions (-8,900). Part time employment dropped slightly by 1,100 positions. Month to Month (April 2019 to April 2020) saw employment drop by 20,500 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 June 2020 as temporary layoffs move towards permanent furloughs.
- Year-to-date employment in May 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 May 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 May 2020 construction employment is down by 2,150 positions from the same period in 2019.
- The average year-to-date unemployment rate advanced from 4.6% in May 2019 to 7.9% in May 2020. Year-to-date, the number of unemployed is up 4,400 in May 2020 from May 2019. In addition, the number of those of labour force age but not in the labour force increased by 9,660 over the same time period as some workers have withdrawn from actively seeking employment until prospects improve.
- April 2020 total year-to-date housing starts are up by 62 units or 36% as the market bounces back from a very weak 2019. Year-to-date increases were observed in singles (24 units or 37.5%), apartment and other types (66 units or 169.2%). Year-to-date declines were noted in semi-detached (-8 units or -44.4%) and row (-20 units or -39.2%).
- Similar to housing starts, building permits are rebounding from an exceptionally soft 2019 and do not fully reflect pandemic impacts. May 2020 year-to-date building permits are up 57.6% over the same period in 2019. Year-to-date declines were noted in residential (16.2%) commercial (146.5%), and institutional and governmental (19.8%). During the same time period, losses were limited to industrial (-30.6%).
- The average year-to-date Housing Price Index Benchmark Price is down from $265,650 in May 2019 to $262,660 in May 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.