March 17, 2016 by On-Site Magazine
In the two-steps forward, one-step backward pattern of employment over the past 12 months, February was a step back for Saskatchewan, according a recent report released by the Saskatchewan Construction Association.
Total employment in the province was 555,000 which is a decline of 3,000 from February 2015, the report notes.
The population in the labour market age group is still growing so it was perhaps inevitable that unemployment has jumped again – from 32,700 in February 2015 to 39,700 in February 2016.
The unemployment rate is now 6.7%. Counting heavy construction and both the residential and non-residential sectors, construction employment fell by a substantial 5,700 jobs compared with February a year ago, according to the report.
This is a 10.6% drop, the largest percentage decline since 2003, and brings total employment to 48,100. A closer examination of the numbers shows that employment in heavy and engineering construction increased so the decline was limited to the residential and non-residential building construction. The February decline was evident among both the self-employed and paid workers. The hours worked increased from an average of 33.1 hours/week in February 2015 to 34.3 hours/week in February 2016.
The February decline in construction employment was fairly widespread with employment down in five of the seven economic regions in the province.
The most significant drop was in the Regina metropolitan area where employment in the three months ending in February 2016 is 2,300 lower than a year ago.
This is equivalent to a 16% employment decline in spite of the activity in the non-residential and heavy/engineering sectors – the new stadium for the former and highway work for the latter.
Among Saskatoon residents, construction employment averaged 16,800 in the three months ending in February compared with 18,100 a year ago. Outside the two largest cities, employment increased in the North and West Central (Kindersley/Rosetown) areas.
In February, the average hourly wage rate among paid workers in construction was $30.08 which was 2.3% higher than a year ago. This is the first time that the average hourly rate has been above $30/hour. Most observers expect wage rates to remain stable in 2016 with increases in the 1% to 2% range.