Saskatchewan Sees 600 More Jobs in October, but 12,000 More Unemployed

File — Construction is underway on a building in Regina on Nov. 5, 2015.

October’s job numbers were either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

There were 580,000 people working in Saskatchewan last month, a record high for October and an increase of 600 jobs from October 2014, the Sask. Party government boasted in a press release Friday.

The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan was 5.6 per cent in October, second-lowest among the provinces on a seasonally adjusted basis.  Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7.0 per cent.

“Saskatchewan’s diversified economy has weathered low oil prices better than other energy producing provinces,” Immigration, Jobs, Skills and Training Minister Jeremy Harrison said in the release.  “We have the second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada thanks to our diversified economy that continues to create jobs in other sectors.”

But the number of unemployed took a huge jump in October, increasing to 29,900, up 11,700 from October 2014, and the highest number of unemployed in five years, according to Doug Elliott, publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, a monthly statistical newsletter.

“From 18,000 (in October 2014) to 30,000, that’s 12,000. That’s a huge increase,” Elliott said. “So we have an unemployment problem, a big unemployment problem in the province right now.”

Even the year-over-year increase of 600 jobs is under-whelming, Elliott added. “That’s within the margin of error of the survey, in fact. So we can say there’s been no (job) growth in the last year, which has been the story for the last three or four months. It’s effectively been flat since July.”

Elliott said the problem is the province’s population growth is outpacing the growth in employment. “What’s going on is the population’s growing by one per cent per year, but the jobs are not. The only way that can happen is for them to become unemployed or drop out of the labour market. And they’re choosing to be unemployed.”

Elliott noted many of the sectors that are losing jobs — mining and oil and gas (down 1.600), construction (1,900) and manufacturing (1,800) — tend to have  higher-paying, full-time jobs, while some of the sectors seeing an increase — information, culture and recreation (up 5,000), trade (up 2,800) and accommodation and food service (1,500) — tend to have lower-paying, part-time jobs.

“We’re replacing full-time jobs with part-time jobs. That’s mainly because of the nature of the industries here.”   The number of full-time workers declined 2,700, while part-time workers increased by 3,300 in October, according to Statistics Canada.

Elliott added that the number of unemployed at “30,000 is the highest it’s been since way back in 2010 in the last recession.”

The opposition NDP was quick to pounce on the move away from full-time, high-paying jobs towards lower-paying, part-time jobs.  “The trend of trading good, mortgage-paying full-time jobs with part-time jobs isn’t a good one for Saskatchewan’s economy, or for middle class families,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “The Sask. Party (government) has been ignoring a huge opportunity to promote and develop industries like manufacturing, technology and entrepreneurship.”

Saskatchewan has now fallen behind Manitoba, which has a better unemployment rate on an adjusted basis at 5.3 per cent, Wotherspoon added.

 Other job report highlights include: female employment up 1,200 ( or 0.5 per cent); off-reserve aboriginal employment was up 1,000 (2.3 per cent) for eight consecutive months of year-over-year increases and youth unemployment rate was 11.0 per cent (seasonally adjusted), second-lowest among the provinces, and below the national rate of 13.3 per cent.

Jenni Bast

Jenni Bast

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