Regina Economy Slowing, but Still Growing

Construction of big projects, like the new Mosaic Stadium in Regina, is helping offset the decline in residential construction, according to RROC.

Regina economy’s continues to grow, albeit more slowly than in recent years, despite a retrenchment in resource prices, according to the latest economic report from the Regina Regional Economic Commission (RROC).

“With a protracted downturn in the oil sector, and tepid growth forecasts for the agricultural and mining sectors in Saskatchewan, Regina’s stable and sustained growth remains linked to the region’s economic diversification, and continued population growth,” RROC said in a news release Wednesday.

RROC’s monthly Impact Regina report noted the city’s year-over-year employment growth in September of 1.0 per cent “shows signs of slowing but remains positive.”  Total employment of 137,244 in September was up 1,411 over the same period in 2014, with job growth in utilities (400), transportation and warehousing (1,600), finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (200), education services (700), information, culture and recreation (1,100), accommodation and food services (1,200), and public administration (1,000).

Despite a slowdown in residential construction, construction employment growth was up 400 due to commercial and industrial activity, including the Global Transportation Hub, downtown office construction and the stadium project.

However, continued low oil prices have reduced resource employment, which saw a 50 per cent decrease or 1,300 fewer  jobs year to date. Declines also occurred in wholesale and retail employment (down 1,500) as well as business, building and other support services (400), health care (1,700) and manufacturing employment (500).

The unemployment rate remains low at 4.5 per cent but up slightly from the same period in 2014, while population was up 2.8 per cent in 2014 over 2013 on the strength of international in-migration and is expected to continue through 2015 with continued employment growth.

David Froh, vice-president of RROC, noted the city is still seeing population growth, despite the slower economy. “Our population growth of 2.8 per cent (in 2014) is triple our 20-year average. And the vast majority of that is international migration, including refugees. That’s a net positive for the Regina economy.”

Froh’s only concern is that our population is growing faster than the job market. “The population growth is far exceeding our job growth,” he said, adding the city needs to continue to diversify the economy, invest in infrastructure and increase skills training.

As the housing market struggled to absorb the record housing starts in 2013, both residential permits and housing starts dropped sharply from 2014. However, industrial, commercial, and institutional building permit activity remains strong in the first eight months of 2015, offsetting the drop in residential permits.

While the pace of growth represents a downward revision from previous years, Froh said Regina’s projected 1.6 per cent growth in 2015 remains the eighth highest in Canada and well ahead of Calgary and Edmonton. “We’ve undoubtedly been hurt by the downturn in the oilpatch, we’ve lost roughly 2,500 jobs,” Froh said, but noted that “we’re the only oil-producing region that’s avoiding a recession.”

Jenni Bast

Jenni Bast

CENTURY 21 Dome Realty Inc.
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