EI num­bers de­cline for fourth month

Labour mar­ket shows ‘some sign of life’ with con­struc­tion poised for turn­around

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - ASH­LEY ROBIN­SON arobin­son@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/ash­leymr1993

Em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance num­bers in Saskatchewan are down for the fourth straight month, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada.

In data re­leased Thurs­day, 770 Saskatchewan res­i­dents came off EI be­tween Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, which is a change of 4.1 per cent. Last year dur­ing the same time frame 2,140 peo­ple went onto EI.

Doug El­liott, statis­ti­cian and pub­lisher of Sask Trends Mon­i­tor, said this change could be due to two rea­sons.

“I’m in­clined to think this is sort of an 80-20 thing. I think 20 per cent of this is re­cov­ery in the labour mar­ket and 80 per cent is just plain run­ning out of ben­e­fits,” he said.

The num­ber of un­em­ployed peo­ple in the prov­ince has been steadily de­clin­ing. In March, un­em­ploy­ment de­creased by 2.6 per cent com­pared to the same time last year.

How­ever El­liott said this change also could be due to peo­ple run­ning out of ben­e­fits. Peo­ple can only be on EI for a cer­tain amount of time, which de­pends on how the job mar­ket is where they live and their length of em­ploy­ment.

“There is some sign of life in the labour mar­ket. So that means some of the folks on EI will be find­ing work so num­bers will start to get lower,” he said.

In March, the pri­vate sec­tor em­ploy­ment rate rose by 2.1 per cent, while the pub­lic sec­tor only in­creased by 0.9 per cent.

“We’re still see­ing pretty sub­stan­tial de­clines in con­struc­tion, and that’s prob­a­bly where a lot of them were work­ing when they got laid off. So they may have lost a con­struc­tion job, been on EI for a while and now have got a job driv­ing a truck or some­thing,” El­liott said.

John Lax, man­ager of the Saskatchewan Con­struc­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, said con­struc­tion in the prov­ince has been down sig­nif­i­cantly in the past 24 months — 2015 was a record year for the in­dus­try with $1.7 bil­lion in build­ing per­mits is­sued.

“Within our sec­tor it’s clear that we’ve reached the trough. That doesn’t mean we’re bounc­ing back yet though, and we have not seen sig­nif­i­cant hir­ing to date,” he said.

But the fu­ture is look­ing bright for the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to Lax. In the last two months, more build­ing per­mits have been is­sued, which means in mid-to-late-2017 the con­struc­tion in­dus­try should pick up.

“It won’t be as hot as it was dur­ing the boom, but it’ll be more than enough to keep the in­dus­try boom­ing,” he said.

I think 20 per cent of this is re­cov­ery in the labour mar­ket and 80 per cent is just plain run­ning out of ben­e­fits.

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