Jobs plen­ti­ful in prov­ince

Un­em­ploy­ment rate dips be­low four per cent

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - General - By James Wood

REGINA — There are more jobs than peo­ple to fill them in Saskatchewan as job num­bers surged in Septem­ber and the prov­ince’s un­em­ploy­ment rate dipped to 3.9 per cent, sec­ond only to Al­berta and well be­low the na­tional rate of 5.9 per cent.

Therewere499,100peo­ple­workingin the prov­ince in Septem­ber, a Saskatchewan record for the month, ac­cord­ing to un­ad­justed fig­ures re­leased by Sta­tis­tics Canada on Fri­day.

That num­ber is up 18,900 from a year ear­lier, the sec­ond-big­gest in­crease be­hind Al­berta.

This is the sixth straight month of job growth for Saskatchewan. The un­em­ploy­ment rate has dropped from 5.5 per cent a year cent rate.

In­dus­try and Re­sources Min­is­ter Eric Cline said the job num­bers are a trib­ute to Saskatchewan hav­ing one of the hottest economies in the coun­try.

But com­bined with stag­nant pop­u­la­tion fig­ures — re­cent sta­tis­tics show Saskatchewan’s pop­u­la­tion of just over 985,000 is the low­est in 24 years — Cline ac­knowl­edged that the prov­ince is grap­pling with a labour short­age.

“It is a con­cern. Not­with­stand­ing the fact that we have so many more peo­ple work­ing now than we did a year ago, we still be­lieve that we have 10,000 to 15,000 jobs that are va­cant. So there’s more jobs avail­able for peo­ple out there and that’s why we’re try­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple to re­turn to Saskatchewan or to move to Saskatchewan from else­where,” Cline said to re­porters at the Saskatoon cabi­net of­fice Fri­day.

Cline said the NDP gov­ern­ment will un­veil next week its planned cam­paign to tout the prov­ince’s mer­its to busi­ness and in­vest­ment au­di­ences across Canada.






But the Saskatchewan Party said the gov­ern­ment isn’t do­ing enough as the prov­ince sheds peo­ple, es­pe­cially to Al­berta.

Op­pos i t ion in­dus­try critic Lyle Ste­wart said there’s no de­bate that the job num­bers are very strong, thanks to a boom­ing nat­u­ral re­source sec­tor and busi­ness tax cuts im­ple­mented by the NDP gov­ern­ment this spring.

The Saskatchewan Party claims credit for the im­pe­tus be­hind the tax cuts, and says the gov­ern­ment could do more to at­tract and re­tain peo­ple.

“There needs to be some in­cen­tives for young peo­ple to stay, whether its through help with tu­ition, whether its tax abate­ment for some years af­ter grad­u­a­tion from post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions . . . we need to ad­dress im­mi­gra­tion and I still think there is more room for more of a growth agenda,” said Ste­wart.

Num­bers from Sta­tis­tics Canada show that Regina had an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 5.2 per cent and Saskatoon a rate of 4.3 per cent based on a three-month mov­ing av­er­age.

Greater Saskatoon Cham­ber of Com­merce ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kent Smith-Wind­sor es­ti­mated the num­ber of va­cant po­si­tions in Saskatoon is in the thou­sands and said it’s been both stress­ful and sur­pris­ing for city busi­nesses.

Saskatchewan’s re­cent boom in jobs fol­lows a long pe­riod of stag­nant job cre­ation in the prov­ince and both em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees are still try­ing to get a han­dle on the change, said Smith-Wind­sor.

“Un­til we get a sense across the prov­ince . . . that you can pre­dict with some level of con­fi­dence that there’s go­ing to be pro­gres­sively more job op­por­tu­ni­ties and ca­reer op­tions in front of you, you can ex­pect a lot of young peo­ple to move else­where,” he said.

Larry Hu­bich, pres­i­dent of the Saskatchewan Fed­er­a­tion of Labour, pointed out stud­ies by ac­count­ing firm KPMG have con­sis­tently shown that Saskatchewan cities are al­ready among the most cost-com­pet­i­tive in North Amer­ica.

He said busi­nesses have to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the labour short­age by en­sur­ing that wages are com­pet­i­tive and jobs are stable and full-time.

“When you’ve got cap­tains of in­dus­try con­stantly en­gag­ing in what I have char­ac­ter­ized as a con­stant bar­rage of neg­a­tiv­ity, then pretty soon peo­ple aren’t go­ing to be­lieve this is a good place. And then they’ll won­der why they can’t at­tract and re­tain and re­cruit peo­ple here,” said Hu­bich.

Job sta­tis­tics show that the num­ber of peo­ple work­ing dropped by 2,400 from the month. When num­bers are sea­son­ally ad­justed how­ever, there are 7,000 more peo­ple em­ployed than in Au­gust.

The labour force has grown from 508,400 a year ago to 519,400 in Septem­ber 2006. The labour force was 532,100 in Au­gust.

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