Regina’s July Economic Report Card is out and shows a mix of short-term challenges and long-term opportunities.
Short Term Pains
First, the bad news. The pandemic continues to have a heavy impact on the Accommodation, Restaurants, Retail and Wholesale sectors. In July, accommodation and food services employment was down more than 4,000 jobs compared to this time last year, while wholesale and retail trade saw a drop of nearly 3,500 jobs. This further reinforces the importance of supporting local businesses, who are the hardest hit and are working hard to regain consumer confidence.
While these dips in employment may seem stark, it is important to note that this data does not reflect the full breadth of Stage 4 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan. With almost all businesses now able to reopen to some extent, we can expect to see employment numbers recover a little more as people are able return to work
Long Term Gains
Although the unemployment rate for June shows the effects of COVID-19, there are signs of economic growth in the GRA. Employment in Finance, Insurance, Real estate and Leasing, Professional, Scientific and technical services, Information, Culture and recreation, Public administration, and other services has actually increased compared to this time last year.
New housing starts also appear to be on the rise reflecting pent up demand. As of May, new builds for 2020 are up 41.5% compared to year-to-date builds at this point in 2019. New building permits have followed a similar trajectory, posting a 25.5% year-to-date increase compared to May of last year.
The Big Picture
Regina’s economic recovery will continue to be a slow and careful climb, but one that will be made all the easier thanks to a consistently low number of COVID-19 cases in the city. Let’s hope that continues. We will continue to see lingering effects of the pandemic for the next while as consumer spending, renewed confidence in personal safety, and workplace reintegration will take time. It’s likely fair to expect a few bumps in the road.
All that said, Regina’s long-term outlook remains encouraging. The number and variety of increasing year-to-year indicators shows that Regina’s economic engine continues to run full steam ahead. It’s been slowed, but not stopped. And under the circumstances, that’s good news.