By Shaadie Musleh
Regina’s economic recovery has seen its highs and lows, literally. While some industries and key indicators continue to be hampered by the effects of Covid-19, others are experiencing significant improvement, leading to a recovery that might look a little bit lopsided.
The region’s agriculture sector remains the lifeblood of the economy, with ag and food exports rising rapidly. In fact, according to TD Bank, farm receipts are up over double-digits relative to last year as the global demand for food -- and Regina’s importance in the ag and food sector – continue to grow. This growth has managed to offset weakness in the region’s energy sector.
On the flip side, the hospitality sector is unfortunately experiencing the inverse of this improvement, having lost more that 5,000 jobs compared to this time last year. Employment dips in retail, food, and accommodation represents approximately 60% of year over year job losses.
As the federal government transitions the CERB program to new benefits that require recipients to look for work, these losses may have an especially negative impact, as finding new work could prove challenging amid a heavy second wave. It is worth noting that employment in technical fields like finance, insurance, manufactural, and scientific services has seen moderate improvement, and has actually increased compared to this time last year.
One key indicator that continues to see significant growth is new housing starts, which as of August, are up 43.2% in all sub-categories relative to the same period last year. This is expected to taper off as the weather cools, but the impact on demand has help raise the Housing Price Index Benchmark Price up from $269,100 in September 2019 to $272,378 in September 2020, which should translate into increased equity for homeowners.
Relative it the rest of the country, Regina and Saskatchewan are seeing a slowing in job losses. Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate of 6.8% is the lowest in the country, but still well above where we were last year at this time. All of this to say we’re not out of the woods yet, and a proactive approach to maintaining social distancing and other safety measures must remain top on mind to keep the momentum going.