By Shaadie Musleh
As many businesses in Saskatchewan begin to reopen their doors, it’s important to remember that we’re not out of the weeds just yet. Regina’s June economic report card* reflects the significant impact of COVID-19 on the regional economy, especially in terms of employment. From January to May, Regina lost a staggering 10,020 jobs compared to the same period last year, and unemployment in the region reached 7.9% in May compared to 4.6% in May of 2019.
The numbers are ugly, but it tells us where we were, not where we are going. The phased reopening of businesses across the province is expected to stem the loss of employment we’ve seen over the past few months. As people return to work, consumer spending will continue to improve after a sharp drop in April, particularly (and predictably) in provinces like Saskatchewan where the economy has begun to “open up.”
Re-opened businesses have largely done an excellent job of remaining judicious and implementing precautions to keep their customers and staff safe, which will go a long way towards rebuilding consumer confidence as we move into phase 4.1 of the Reopen Saskatchewan Plan. All the hard work of businesses and individuals appears to be paying off, with no active COVID-19 cases in the GRA at the time of writing.
With the pandemic keeping many people close to home this summer, local businesses stand to benefit as consumer confidence slowly increases. Clear social distancing guidelines and other measures, along with a curve that hopefully remains flat will help in that regard.
Overall, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic. It will take time to find out if this recovery has legs, but as we move through the phases of reopening there will be more and more opportunity for growth. For this recovery to be sustained, we must all continue to do our part to keep this virus at bay. Stay vigilant, stay safe, and continue to support local business.
*A special thanks to Praxis Consulting Ltd. for compiling key numbers for this report.