If you’ve ever seen a train reverse, you’ll know it needs to slow its forward momentum before it can stop and begin to move in the opposite direction. Obviously, this is simple physics and it makes intuitive sense. The train cannot simply change its trajectory on a dime, so the slowing is a necessary and important sign that a reversal may be coming.
In a sense, this is where Regina’s economy currently sits. The numbers are still not great. For the eleventh consecutive month, employment is down, and unemployment is up. Since the start of the pandemic employment has affected some sectors more so then others, hitting sectors like hospitality particularly hard. As of October 2020, average year-to-date employment in the Accommodation and Food Services sector is down 5,060 jobs.
However, like a train preparing to reverse, employment losses have been slowing over last six months compared to the same time last year, we can begin to see a curve slowly flattening.
- April: 13,800
- May: 20,500
- June: 22,400
- July: 16,200
- August: 12,300
- September: 6,400
It is difficult to predict the impact this second wave will have on Regina’s job economy compared to the first as unemployment may rise again amid our current slowdown. Potential job losses and rising unemployment are never “positive,” but the apparent flattening of this curve in recent months is encouraging. It is a positive reminder that by working together, and everyone doing their part to be safe, we can make a difference.
Among our challenges there are bright spots. This month, Raven Industries announced plans to construct a 21,000 manufacturing and testing facility in the GRA. The new facility is positioned to be the central campus for precision and autonomous agriculture innovation, training and service in Canada, and will bring a much-needed boost to manufacturing employment in the region.
Housing prices continue to be a positive economic indicator. As prices in Saskatchewan are up for this time last year by 6.4%, Regina is outpacing the province as prices are up 7.7%. This has increased with residential construction, which is up year to date by 29.1%.
The Conference Board of Canada has released its 2021 forecasts and the numbers are encouraging. CBOC is forecasting 5.0% growth of our economy providing we can continue to build on some of the positive momentum we’ve seen and manage the challenges of COVID-19 cases rising.
The ability and responsibility to slow the Covid-19 train belongs to all of us. If we are able to return to the level of vigilance we observed this spring, we’ll be in a better position to start moving in the right direction again.