June employment numbers in Saskatchewan not a rosy picture

Starphoenix, July 8, 2016-

Employment numbers for June in Saskatchewan are up slightly from May, but down 6,900 jobs compared with the same period last year, according to Statistics Canada’s labour force report released Friday.

“This is the fifth month in a row we’ve had declines from a year ago. So we’re certainly in slump,” said Doug Elliott, publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, a monthly statistical newsletter.

Employment numbers are down roughly 1.2 per cent in Saskatchewan from June 2015. Last month, there were 582,200 people employed in the province, compared to 589,100 during the same period last year.

The hardest-hit sectors were construction, which was down 13.5 per cent, education services (down 9.2 per cent) and transportation (down eight per cent). However, there were increases from last year; professional and technical services increased 10.8 per cent, information, culture, recreation (up nine per cent) and agriculture (up 6.9 per cent).

June’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1 per cent, up 0.1 percentage points from 6.0 per cent in May and up 1.3 percentage points from 4.8 per cent in June 2015. Last month, there were 34,000 people unemployed in the province, compared with last year when there was 25,800 people unemployed. Saskatchewan does, however, have the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country for the month.

“One thing I would say with regard to numbers we’ve seen for the last two months, I think we’re seeing stability in the labour market,” said Jeremy Harrison, minister of immigration, jobs, skills and training.

Harrison acknowledged that the province has seen challenging times throughout the last year in the energy and natural resource sector with the low price of oil. “Year-over-year employment is down about 6,900, I believe. But over the course of the year we’ve seen our neighbour to the west, for instance, lose 70,000 jobs,” Harrison said.

He noted that June employment numbers were up about one per cent from May when 577,800 people were working in the province.

While Elliott agreed that we are seeing increases in job numbers from month to month, but over the long term it’s not certain if that will translate into a return to the employment numbers that Saskatchewan was seeing last year. “You can get little ups and downs from month to month, but we’re still tracking way below last year’s levels,” Elliott said.

“There was actually an increase from April to May as well so maybe we’re finished this downward trend and we’re starting on an upward trend,” Elliott added.

Even with the monthly uptick in jobs, Elliott said there is still a way to go before the province is back to where it was with employment numbers this time last year.

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