‘A very positive direction’: Job numbers up, unemployment rates down in Saskatchewan

‘A very positive direction’: Job numbers up, unemployment rates down in Saskatchewan

DAVE DEIBERT, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX  03.10.2017

jeremy harrison
Saskatchewan Party’s Jeremy Harrison
GREG PENDER / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

 

Although the province is facing a $1.2 billion deficit, numbers released Friday provide some sense of optimism to the Saskatchewan government that the economy could be rebounding.

In February, 8,000 jobs were created in the province, up 1.4 per cent month over month — the highest growth rate in Canada. Year over year, 8,600 new jobs were created in Saskatchewan. The month-over-month growth in Canada was 0.1 per cent in February.

Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison said the job numbers data was “extraordinarily positive.” He acknowledged the growth is just a snapshot of one month, but said “it’s not out of step” with what the government is hearing anecdotally and also from data officials are seeing in areas such as retail sales, wholesale trade and weekly earnings.

“The trend is definitely in a very positive direction,” Harrison said.

The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan dropped to six per cent last month, while the national rate fell to 6.6 per cent, its lowest level in more than two years. According to the provincial government, 563,600 people were working in Saskatchewan, a higher number than anytime in the province’s history.

Another positive sign for Saskatchewan: According to its March forecast, RBC is predicting positive growth this year and next year, with activity this year rising 1.8 per cent and 2.3 per cent next year, following two years of negative growth.

RBC in its forecast said it expects Saskatchewan’s energy sector to recover in 2017, capital expenditures to rise, the quality of the grain harvest to improve and strengthening labour markets to support household spending.

According to the national job numbers, much of Canada’s increased job activity was seen in the West, with British Columbia,Saskatchewanand Manitoba all seeing gains. In Saskatchewan, the unemployment rate fell from 6.4 per cent to six per cent. In contrast, fewer people were working in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, while employment was little changed in the other five provinces.

Several economists were quick to hail the numbers as a sign that Canada’s economy is on the mend, though at least one questioned the survey’s findings of a massive swing toward full-time employment at the expense of part-time jobs.

“This continues the string of improving Canadian economic data and suggests that the underlying economy continues to gain steam,” said BMO senior economist Benjamin Reitzes in a note to clients. “One more piece of evidence that the Canadian economy has turned the corner.”

The Statistics Canada report found most of the February job gains came from full-time work, offset by a decline in the number of people working part-time.

It said an estimated 105,000 people in Canada found full-time employment last month while part-time positions dropped by nearly 90,000. That was in contrast to the January labour market survey, which showed a surge in part-time work.

“I find this hard to believe in terms of the details,” said Derek Holt, head of markets economics at Scotiabank Economics, who noted that the increase in full-time jobs would mark the strongest gain in almost 11 years while the part-time drop would represent the biggest decline since Statistics Canada began its labour force survey in 1976.

While the monthly employment numbers are typically volatile, Statistics Canada said that in the 12 months ending in February, Canada saw a net gain of 288,000 jobs with most of the increase coming in the last six months of 2016.

Women in the 25-to-54 age bracket saw more work, marking the third monthly increase in that category. Men in the same age range saw employment holding steady in February after a notable increase the previous month.

Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 was little changed both in February and on a year-over-year basis. But with fewer young people seeking jobs, their unemployment rate declined by 0.9 percentage points to 12.4 per cent.

— With Canadian Press files

 

 

 

About prosperitysaskatchewan

Consultant on Saskatchewan's natural resources.

Posted on March 13, 2017, in economic impact, miscellaneous, political. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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