by Paul Martin
The state of the labor market in Saskatchewan improved in November.
The monthly figures on job numbers showed an increase of nearly 3,000 positions from October to November of this year but that’s still nearly 10,000 fewer than a year ago.
When the numbers came out last month, the year-over-year drop was approaching 11,000, a significant departure from previous reports where the erosion was less dramatic. The reduction is now 9,800 – a move in the right direction.
And it was full-time work that made the difference. We saw the population grow in the month, the number of people holding a job or looking for one also rose. Yet the unemployment rate fell which is a sign that last month’s big fall represents the bottom of the trough. However, one month does not make a trend so the next report will tell us if the rebound is in place or November was an aberration.
The big story here is that the work force continues to grow and but not quite as quickly as new job formation.
The Saskatchewan economy, despite the headlines we’ve been seeing, is showing some life.
At least that’s the view of the economists at BMO Bank of Montreal. Their latest quarterly forecast says the Saskatchewan economy will grow about a half point in 2016. Most other reports which show us in negative territory.
The bank also says next year will see further growth of roughly 1.6 percent.
The BMO variation, however, is not painting a different picture. The only thing is timing. Most of the economists have said 2016 will be a down year with a significant rebound next year. BMO is saying the same thing, only that the improvement has already taken hold and some of the gains will be evident in this calendar year.
One other interesting note in the BMO report looks at the debt levels of governments across the country. The newly-revised deficit numbers for Saskatchewan mean overall public debt is just under 10-percent of GDP, second-best in the country. Compare that to Ontario where the debt is 40-percent of GDP and Quebec is nearly 49 percent.
Weather patterns and their effect on business are usually associated with agriculture but it turns out the food and beverage business is also sensitive to changing weather conditions.
The latest figures on sales in bars and restaurants are from September and, because it was a warmer month, revenues were up across the province and the nation as a whole.
Revenues for those in the hospitality sector were 1.5 percent higher than in August and about three points better than the same month a year ago. The month-over-month improvement matched the national average but we lagged the rest of the country for the remainder of the year.
September was the second consecutive increase for businesses in this sector in Saskatchewan and the second best month of the year at $156 million. Only June saw higher revenues.
It also is a bit of an indicator of how discretionary spending patterns are holding up. They appear to be relatively static – not much movement either way – but it was the restaurant segment that produced the strongest gains.
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.