Building Surge, Job Chart Steady and a Bump in Commodities


Building Surge

If the building permits issued by local governments are any indication, the province’s construction industry got a bit of a bump in June.

National figures on building permits tend to run a month behind the local ones but they offer a broader perspective – how we stack up against the rest of the country – so they can be helpful even if they’re a bit old.

The June figures have just been released and they show Regina and Saskatoon turned in remarkably strong performances. In both cases, the value of permits were up more than 100% compared to May, giving our two cities the biggest improvements in the nation.

The big jump was in non-residential activity. It was up 150-percent over May and 60-percent over June of last year. Regina saw the biggest increase – about 160 percent for the month – while Saskatoon was ahead by 30-percent. The value of residential building permits was still falling, showing  the significance of the non-residential story given that many parts of the nation were seeing declines in the same time frame.

Job Chart Steady

The job numbers in July show a picture of differences in various parts of the country.

In broad terms, employment went down in Canada in July. Saskatchewan, however, really was not a factor as our job numbers remained virtually unchanged, shifting one-tenth of a point for the month and zero for the year.

It was not the same story in Alberta and Ontario where the number of people working declined.

These figures are tabulated monthly through a survey that StatsCan conducts. You may have been on one of them where they call for a few consecutive months and ask if you were working. But they also add a few other numbers that can be helpful in determining not so much the actual numbers but trends.

One of those is population. This is not the formal census but an estimate of how the pool of people in working age is changing. This month showed a significant increase in Saskatchewan suggesting we are still attracting people, primarily through immigration as this total went up in every province.


Commodity Bump

One of the biggest spectator sports in the business world in this province is the track that commodities are running. This province relies heavily on commodities – especially resources – but agriculture is also critical so many business decisions are based on the direction commodities are headed.

One of the best sources of information on this front comes from Scotia Bank and their monthly Commodities Index.

Their June report shows the Index rose by 3.3 percent over May. One of the big contributors was petroleum which bumped up against $50 a barrel in that time frame. And while it has fallen back since then, the Bank remains relatively bullish saying anything in the $30s is a speed bump as they project $50 oil by the end of the year and 2017 will close out at $60.

Strength in agriculture – led by a sharp rise in lean hog prices – also contributed to the improvement in June as did lumber. The ag gains were triggered by Chinese demand while lumber is enjoying a renaissance in American home building.


They’re in a hurry. And they feel good about their prospects.

Post-secondary students these days have an optimistic view of how life will unfold once they leave the halls of learning.

A study of student attitudes conducted for RBC Royal Bank shows the bulk expect they will tick the boxes on a string of life’s milestones within 60 months of convocation.

The bank survey learned that three-quarters of the students expected to have their student loans paid off in five years and half figured they’d be married and be home owners in that time frame.

Half expected to move out of their parents’ home in the first year. More than half anticipated owning their first car in the second year.

And the optimism starts early. Two-thirds of first year students expected they earn a $100,000 annual salary within five years…fourth year students saw a slightly less rosy future as only half of them anticipated reaching that milestone.  40-percent of freshmen expected they’d be parents within five years of graduation compared to fewer than one-in-three seniors.






Paul Martin

Paul Martin You’ve heard him on the radio, seen him on TV and read him in newspapers and magazines. Paul is a popular keynote speaker on topics ranging from the economy to tapping community potential. His unique blend of communication and business knowledge has made him a highly sought-after consultant. As the Chair of Martin Charlton Communications, Paul is MCC’s ‘go to’ guy for all things business in Saskatchewan. He is the chair of four Saskatchewan branches of TEC (The Executive Committee) – a global organization dedicated to improving the performance and enhancing the lives of CEOs – which has over 50 CEOs and senior executives among its Saskatchewan members. The long and short: Paul knows the province’s corporate community and business economy like few others. He is a potent conduit for anyone looking to do business in Saskatchewan, Canada’s fastest growing economy. His strategic advice is unrivalled.

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