As mentioned in the last Economic Report Card blog, the COVID-19 recession has caused a recession unlike any we’ve seen before. We are now seeing the true effects on the regional economy and our ability to bounce back, though that recovery remains largely inconsistent among sectors of the economy.
The wave of unemployment has certainly been felt in the GRA. As of January, Regina has lost 9,267 jobs compared to this last year. This represents 32% of all jobs lost in the province, which may sound stark but makes sense. As an urban centre, the GRA naturally has higher employment in hospitality, food service, and high-contact retail, all areas which have been disproportionally hit by the pandemic and resulting safety measures. The food and accommodation sectors alone have made up 50% of all jobs lost in the region.
Equally alarming are the number of unemployed individuals (many of whom were previously employed in the above sectors) who have simply withdrawn from actively seeking employment, choosing to wait until prospects improve. As of January, 2,800 former jobseekers have essentially given up looking for work and are therefor not counted among Regina’s current 7.3% unemployment rate.
Once again however, this recession is – to borrow a now hackneyed term – unprecedented. While the wave of unemployment in service industries across Canada is certainly real, the myriad of available supports appears to have created a protective wall preventing this wave from escalating into a full-scale tsunami. In line with national trends, the total number of consumer insolvencies in Saskatchewan dropped 24.4% in December compared to the same time last year, while business insolvencies dipped by 52.9% over the same period.
Simply put, while businesses and consumers are certainly facing a struggle, available supports are largely keeping it from becoming a catastrophic one. The Regina Economic Recovery Grant, Strong Recovery Adaptation Rebate, Re-Open Saskatchewan Training Subsidy, Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment, Western Diversification: Regional Relief and Recovery Fund as well as many other Federal programs are still available and accepting applications.
As always, we as individual consumers and businesses are far from powerless in our fight against this virus, on both the public health and economic recovery fronts. As we swim toward wide-spread vaccine distribution we can all help keep our collective heads above water by shopping local, adhering to public health measures, and banding together as the tightly knit community we have always been, even if that means doing so six feet apart.