Saskatoon economic update: quarter 3 report shows continued economic strength in region.In mid-September, the Conference Board of Canada predicted the Saskatoon region would hold onto its title as the fastest growing Canadian region for the second year in a row and so far that prediction is coming true. Led by strong gains in the retail and wholesale trade and construction sectors, the region's gross domestic product (GDP) is on track to realize a projected growth of 5.2 per cent by the end of the year.
Other highlights of SREDA's third quarterly report include a continued increase in residential and non-residential construction investment and a rise in employment numbers.
Residential building investment stays the course Residential construction investment in the Saskatoon region this year continued to exceed last year's totals. Permit values are higher in the region (+25%) compared to the same time frame in 2007, due to increased construction activity in the surrounding areas of the city. Inside city boundaries, the value of permits for new single family dwellings are up (+5%) compared to the 2007 Q3. Row housing construction and upgrades increased in 2008; however investment in condo conversions in Saskatoon has decreased slightly. Surrounding regions continue to see higher investment in single-family dwellings and upgrades to existing houses.
Confidence in the Saskatoon region residential market continues, as the substantial growth in 2008 housing starts suggests. At the end of 2008 Q3, housing starts in the Saskatoon region exceeded 2007 levels by 11 per cent. However, different types of houses are being built in the region. A majority of the growth in the region can be attributed to multiple-family housing starts (+38%). Single-detached dwelling starts are down compared to 2007 (-6%).
Investment in non-residential construction in the Saskatoon region has increased considerably compared to last year. The value of non-residential investment in the third quarter of 2008 is up more than 300 per cent compared to 2007 Q3. Investment in commercial and industrial buildings in the region is driving the market.
Non-residential construction in the surrounding areas of Saskatoon also saw a dramatic increase (+1540%) compared to 2007 Q3. This was due to an investment by PotashCorp to debottleneck and expand their production capacity in the region, as well as other investment in buildings by transportation and manufacturing companies.
Labour market and job numbers increasing steadily
Saskatoon and Saskatchewan's job market continues to perform well. Employment numbers in Saskatoon increased in the third quarter of the year, with 3,000 more people working in the region compared to the previous quarter. Seasonal jobs comprise a fair portion of the growth, and an increase in full-time positions (+6%) is somewhat offset by decreases in part-time positions (-16%). However, there was a net increase in jobs in the region during the past three months.
The Saskatoon region's national and international exposure is helping to attract people. Labour force numbers continue to rise, yet there is still a significant amount of positions needing to be filled. Annually, the working age population increased by 3.3 per cent (+6,400 people); three times the historical average population growth for the region. Participation rates have increased over the past three months--as is usually the case in summer--but are slightly lower than last year's rates. Again, this is likely due to migrating workers and their families who are in the midst of establishing themselves in the region before finding employment. Due to higher than average migration levels, the number of unemployed individuals in the region has increased (+300). There are still a considerable number of unfilled positions in the region, and as mentioned earlier in this report, increased construction activity will undoubtedly create increased demand for workers.
To view the full Quarter 3 report, visit SREDA's website at www.sreda.com.
The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) Inc. is dedicated to the attraction, retention, growth and expansion of opportunities in the Saskatoon economic area. For move information go to www.sreda.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.