Labour Market Bulletin - Saskatchewan: May 2019

This Labour Market Bulletin provides an analysis of Labour Force Survey results for the province of Saskatchewan, including Regina-Moose Mountain, Swift Current-Moose Jaw, Saskatoon-Biggar, Yorkton-Melville and Prince Albert & Northern economic regions.


There were 579,400 people working in Saskatchewan in May 2019, down 1,000 compared to a month earlier. Gains in part-time employment (+1,800) were overshadowed by considerable losses in full-time employment (-2,700) during this period. Nonetheless, Saskatchewan's labour market is performing significantly better compared to this time last year; there are 15,000 more people employed in the province than in May 2018.

Saskatchewan Monthly Labour Force Statistics
Seasonally Adjusted
Monthly Data
May 2019 April 2019 May 2018 Monthly Variation Yearly Variation
Number % Number %
Population 15 + ('000) 888.6 888.4 884.2 0.2 0.0 4.4 0.5
Labour Force ('000) 611.1 613.7 605.2 -2.6 -0.4 5.9 1.0
Employment ('000) 579.4 580.4 564.4 -1.0 -0.2 15.0 2.7
Full-Time ('000) 477.8 480.5 462.2 -2.7 -0.6 15.6 3.4
Part-Time ('000) 101.6 99.8 102.2 1.8 1.8 -0.6 -0.6
Unemployment ('000) 31.8 33.3 40.8 -1.5 -4.5 -9.0 -22.1
Unemployment Rate (%) 5.2 5.4 6.7 -0.2 - -1.5 -
Participation Rate (%) 68.8 69.1 68.4 -0.3 - 0.4 -
Employment Rate (%) 65.2 65.3 63.8 -0.1 - 1.4 -

* Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey – Table 14-10-0287-01, formerly CANSIM 282-0087

On a monthly basis, both private sector employment and self-employment decreased – by 3,000 and 300, respectively. Meanwhile, the public sector added 2,300 positions on the month.1

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Saskatchewan's real GDP is expected to grow 1.3% in 2019, following a 1.5% increase in 2018. The trade industry (wholesale and retail) is anticipated to drive economic activity during this period. Moreover, the provincial unemployment rate is forecast to gradually decline over the medium-term as economic conditions improve, which will lead to an increase in consumer spending.2

Saskatchewan Monthly Employment and Unemployment rate
Saskatchewan monthly employment and unemployment rate. The data table for this graph is located below

Seasonally adjusted data
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey Table 14-10-0287

Show data table: Saskatchewan monthly employment and unemployment rate
Saskatchewan Monthly Employment and Unemployment Rate
Unemployment Rate (%) Employment ('000)
May-2017 6.3 570.9
Jun-2017 6.6 574.9
Jul-2017 6.6 568.5
Aug-2017 6.2 568.5
Sep-2017 6.1 568.5
Oct-2017 5.8 564.9
Nov-2017 6.3 562.1
Dec-2017 6.4 567.0
Jan-2018 5.6 568.3
Feb-2018 5.7 565.8
Mar-2018 6.0 569.5
Apr-2018 6.4 565.6
May-2018 6.7 564.4
Jun-2018 6.2 572.6
Jul-2018 6.5 568.4
Aug-2018 6.6 570.0
Sep-2018 6.3 572.1
Oct-2018 6.1 575.4
Nov-2018 5.5 579.1
Dec-2018 5.6 579.0
Jan-2019 5.5 576.2
Feb-2019 5.8 574.9
Mar-2019 4.9 578.8
Apr-2019 5.4 580.4
May-2019 5.2 579.4

The provincial unemployment rate declined 0.2 percentage points in May, following a significant increase in April (+0.5 percentage points). Overall, Saskatchewan's unemployment rate remains below the national average of 5.4%.

Saskatchewan Monthly Unemployment Rates, by Gender and Age
Seasonally Adjusted Data May 2019
April 2019
May 2018
Monthly Variation
(% points)
Yearly Variation
(% points)
Total 5.2 5.4 6.7 -0.2 -1.5
25 years and over 4.3 4.6 5.5 -0.3 -1.2
Men - 25 years and over 4.7 5.1 6.0 -0.4 -1.3
Women - 25 years and over 3.8 3.9 5.0 -0.1 -1.2
15 to 24 years 10.8 10.8 14.2 0.0 -3.4
Men - 15 to 24 years 11.8 11.1 17.9 0.7 -6.1
Women - 15 to 24 years 9.8 10.3 9.6 -0.5 0.2

* Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey – Table 14-10-0287, formerly CANSIM 282-0087

Looking at labour force results by demographic groupings, the unemployment rate for men of all ages decreased on a year-over-year basis. The largest decrease during the past year occurred for young men (15 to 24 years), with their rate falling 6.1 percentage points to 11.8%. In contrast, the rate for young women increased 0.2 percentage points to 9.8% over the same period.

Employment by industry

Saskatchewan's goods-producing sector shed 1,300 positions in May, with losses in three of five industries. Meanwhile, employment was virtually unchanged in the services-producing sector (+300).

Saskatchewan Monthly Labour Force Statistics, by Industry
Seasonally Adjusted May 2019 April 2019 May 2018 Monthly Variation Yearly Variation
Number % Number %
Total employed, all industries 579.4 580.4 564.4 -1.0 -0.2 15.0 2.7
Goods-producing sector 147.6 148.9 144.6 -1.3 -0.9 3.0 2.1
Agriculture 39.2 40.9 36.9 -1.7 -4.2 2.3 6.2
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas 23.7 22.5 24.3 1.2 5.3 -0.6 -2.5
Utilities 7.0 7.2 6.8 -0.2 -2.8 0.2 2.9
Construction 46.9 47.6 48.0 -0.7 -1.5 -1.1 -2.3
Manufacturing 30.9 30.6 28.7 0.3 1.0 2.2 7.7
Services-producing sector 431.8 431.5 419.8 0.3 0.1 12.0 2.9
Trade 87.5 87.0 90.0 0.5 0.6 -2.5 -2.8
Transportation and warehousing 26.2 27.1 28.5 -0.9 -3.3 -2.3 -8.1
Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing 29.5 29.5 28.8 0.0 0.0 0.7 2.4
Professional, scientific and technical services 28.5 27.4 25.8 1.1 4.0 2.7 10.5
Business, building and other support services 16.0 16.8 14.4 -0.8 -4.8 1.6 11.1
Educational services 43.9 44.1 41.2 -0.2 -0.5 2.7 6.6
Health care and social assistance 79.7 80.5 77.5 -0.8 -1.0 2.2 2.8
Information, culture and recreation 21.7 21.2 19.8 0.5 2.4 1.9 9.6
Accommodation and food services 39.3 39.7 36.8 -0.4 -1.0 2.5 6.8
Other services 28.6 27.7 25.6 0.9 3.2 3.0 11.7
Public administration 30.7 30.5 31.4 0.2 0.7 -0.7 -2.2

* Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey – Table 14-10-0355, formerly CANSIM 282-0088

The largest monthly decrease in employment was in the agriculture industry (-1,700). According to the Government of Saskatchewan's latest crop report, spring seeding is nearly complete across the province, with 99% of crops planted. This is slightly ahead of the five-year average of 93% for this time of the year.3 A Lack of moisture is a concern for producers this crop season. Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are experiencing the driest spring on record, while many other areas of southern and central Saskatchewan have had significantly lower than normal precipitation.4 As a result, topsoil moisture conditions continue to deteriorate across Saskatchewan. And if there is not substantial rainfall in the coming weeks, yields will be negatively affected.5

Meanwhile, trade uncertainties continue to pose challenges for Canadian farmers. In March, Chinese companies stopped buying canola seed from Canadian producers.6 China cited insect infestation for revoking the export permit from Winnipeg-based canola exporter Richardson International on March 6. The export ban was further extended to Regina-based Viterra on March 26.7

Employment in the construction industry declined 700 in May. A number of major commercial projects have been completed or are nearing completion across the province. For instance, the new $407 million Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford opened its doors this month and work on Jim Pattison Children's Hospital in Saskatoon is complete.8 Meanwhile, residential construction activity remains sluggish across the province. According to the Regina and Region Home Builders' Association, housing starts are expected to reach their lowest levels in 11 years in the city. There were 111 residential permits issues in the Regina area during the first quarter of 2019, down 67.4% from the same period a year ago.9

Meanwhile, the province's manufacturing industry added 300 positions on a monthly basis. On May 17, Canada reached an agreement with the US to end tariffs on Canadian metal. The 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum were introduced by the US almost a year ago under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act. In Saskatchewan, the steel tariffs affected EVRAZ Regina. The Regina plant is the longest-running Large Diameter Welded pipe producer in North America, employing approximately 1,000 people.10

The number of people working in Saskatchewan's resource extraction industry (forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas) rose 1,200 in May. Exploration activity is ramping up at Star Diamond Corporation's Star-Orion South diamond mine located near Prince Albert. Rio Tinto, which signed an option and joint venture agreement with Star Diamond on this project, recently completed detailed drilling to determine the quality of diamond deposits. The company is now gearing up for a large-scale trench cutting to determine the feasibility of the diamond-mining project. For this part of the project, Rio Tinto has expanded its work camp from 90 to 150 people. If the entire project moves forward, about 66 million carats of diamonds could be recovered from a surface mine over a projected 34-year lifespan. The $1.87 billion project would employ an average of about 670 workers annually for a five-year construction period and 730 people during full operation.11

On the coal-mining front, the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan recently signed an Equivalency Agreement that will allow Boundary Dam Units 4 and 5 to operate longer. The Boundary Dam Power Station is the largest coal generated thermal electric power plant in Canada. The plant is capable of producing 516 megawatts of electricity annually and employs 369 workers in southern Saskatchewan. Under the federal government's Climate Action Plan, the units were initially set to close this year. However, with the agreement coming into force on January 1, 2020, Boundary Dam Units 4 and 5 will remain open until 2021 and 2024, respectively.12

Turning to the services-producing sector, employment in professional, scientific and technical services increased 1,100 on a monthly basis. In contrast, healthcare and social assistance, and educational services shed 800 and 200 positions, respectively.

Employment in finance, insurance, real estate and leasing was unchanged this month. However, industry employment has trended downwards since 2015 due to changing consumer service preferences and a downturn in the province's resource extraction industry. Conexus Credit Union, for instance, is closing nine branches in eight communities across Saskatchewan, effective October 2, 2019. Branches closing are located in Chamberlain, Cupar, Drake, Middle Lake, Mossbank, Spy Hill, Young, and Regina (Fifth Avenue Branch and Wallace Branch). The decision to shutter locations is a result of Conexus changing the way it delivers services as customers shift away from visiting actual brick and mortar locations to online banking. Overall, the closures affect 38 employees.13

Employment in transportation and warehousing dropped for a second consecutive month in May (-900). Despite this recent decline in employment, some positive developments are on the horizon for this industry. The Canadian National (CN) Railway, for instance, is planning to spend over $245 million in 2019 to expand and improve its network in Saskatchewan – up $35 million compared to 2018 levels. As part of their capital-spending program, CN plans to expand about 35 miles of double track and upgrade 66 miles of rail line. Overall, CN Railway has spent about $700 million on Saskatchewan's railway infrastructure over the last five years. The company employs approximately 1,300 people in the province, and has major terminals in Saskatoon, Regina, and Melville.14

Regional analysis

Employment is up in three of Saskatchewan's five economic regions on an annual basis. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is down in all economic regions, with the exception of Swift Current – Moose Jaw.

Saskatchewan Monthly Labour Force Statistics, by Economic Region
3-Month Moving Averages
Seasonally Unadjusted Data
Employment Unemployment Rate
May 2019
May 2018
Yearly Variation
May 2019
May 2018
Yearly Variation
(% points)
Saskatchewan 577.0 564.2 2.3 5.5 6.8 -1.3
Economic Regions
Regina - Moose Mountain 190.8 185.2 3.0 4.5 6.1 -1.6
Swift Current - Moose Jaw 49.5 49.7 -0.4 5.5 4.6 0.9
Saskatoon - Biggar 201.9 196.0 3.0 6.2 7.0 -0.8
Yorkton - Melville 36.9 34.1 8.2 4.7 10.0 -5.3
Prince Albert and Northern 98.0 99.3 -1.3 6.6 7.6 -1.0

* Totals may not add due to rounding
Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey – Table 14-10-0293, formerly CANSIM 282-0122

Employment in Saskatoon-Biggar is up nearly 6,000 compared to levels a year ago. Significant gains in the services-producing sector (+12,200) overshadowed losses in the region's goods-producing sector (-6,200). Uncertainty in potash and uranium markets has affected Saskatoon-Biggar, which is a hub for mining companies. Saskatoon-based Nutrien, for example, is reducing production at its Vanscoy potash mine located 28kms southwest of the city. The company hopes to reduce costs and plans to shift production to lower-cost mines such as its recently expanded Rocanville mine. Approximately 20 full-time salaried staff and 60 hourly employees are being laid-off at the mine effective in the third quarter of 2019.15

The number of individuals employed in Regina-Moose Mountain is up 5,600 on a year-over-year basis, led by gains in the agriculture industry (+3,200). Regina-based Protein Industries Canada has released its first call out for proposals and is allocating $40 million into eligible projects.16 PIC comprises of a group of businesses, post-secondary institutions and non-profits that aim to increase the value of key prairie crops in premium markets and to meet increasing demand for plant-based meat alternatives in North America. The supercluster is anticipated to create more than 4,500 jobs across the prairies over a 10-year period.17

The Yorkton-Melville region added 2,800 positions on the year, due in large part to higher construction employment.18 Work is currently underway on Grain Millers' oat facility near Yorkton. The expansion will nearly double the company's production capacity, resulting in the need for approximately 30 more staff.19 The unemployment rate in this region has also improved – falling 5.3 percentage points to 4.7% since May 2018.

Finally, employment in Prince Albert and Northern region fell 1,300 between May 2018 and May 2019. The largest drop in employment was registered in wholesale and retail trade (-2,500), followed by declining employment in the resource extraction industry (-1,300). Weakness in the global uranium market and slow oil and gas activity continues to hamper growth in this region. Nonetheless, there are some positive developments in Prince Albert and Northern region. For example, the federal government is granting $52.5 million to build the Meadow Lake Tribal Council Bioenergy Centre. The new centre will replace the current beehive burner at the NorSask mill, and is expected to create enough energy to power 5,000 homes.20


In preparing this document, the authors have taken care to provide clients with labour market information that is timely and accurate at the time of publication. Since labour market conditions are dynamic, some of the information presented here may have changed since this document was published. Users are encouraged to also refer to other sources for additional information on the local economy and labour market. Information contained in this document does not necessarily reflect official policies of Employment and Social Development Canada.

Prepared by: Labour Market Information (LMI) Directorate, Service Canada, Saskatchewan
For further information, please contact the LMI team.
For information on the Labour Force Survey, please visit the Statistics Canada website.


  1. Statistics Canada (Accessed June 9, 2019). Table: 14-10-0288-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0089) Employment by class of worker, monthly, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, last 5 months (x 1,000). Retrieved from:↩︎

  2. The Conference Board of Canada (June 7, 2019). Provincial Outlook Economic Forecast: Saskatchewan—Spring 2019. Retrieved from:↩︎

  3. Grainnnews (June 6, 2019). Seeding in Sask. 99 per cent complete, topsoil moisture continues to decline. Retrieved from:↩︎

  4. CBC News (June 3, 2019). Saskatoon and Moose Jaw had their driest springs ever recorded. Retrieved from:↩︎

  5. Discover Weyburn (June 6, 2019). Rain Desperately Needed As Seeding Wraps Up. Retrieved from:↩︎

  6. Canadian Manufacturing (March 25, 2019). Chinese importers have stopped buying Canadian canola seed: Industry group. Retrieved from:↩︎

  7. CBC News (March 26, 2019). China's crackdown on Canadian canola expands as 2nd company, Viterra, has licence revoked. Retrieved from:↩︎

  8. CBC News (March 20, 2019). Saskatchewan Budget 2019: Saskatoon Children's Hospital gets $23 million more for hiring. Retrieved from:

    CBC News (March 8, 2019). New 284-bed secure psychiatric facility opens in North Battleford. Retrieved from:↩︎

  9. Regina Leader-Post (May 15, 2019). Regina's residential construction industry in 'deep recession,' says home builders' association. Retrieved from:↩︎

  10. 650CKOM (May 17, 2019). Regina steelworkers feeling ‘relieved' as U.S. lifts tariffs. Retrieved from:

    CBC (May 20, 2019). Steel and aluminum tariffs are gone, so now what?. Retrieved from:↩︎

  11. paNOW (April 17, 2019). Core and sonic drilling completed at diamond site. Retrieved from:

    Prince Albert Daily Herald (February 7, 201). Lots of work ahead for Rio Tinto. Retrieved from:

    Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (October 25, 2018). Government grants environmental approval for Prince Albert-area diamond mine. Retrieved from:

    Prince Albert Daily Herald (Oct 25, 2019). Diamond Mine approved despite opposition from James Smith Cree Nation

    Star Diamond Corporation (March 4, 2019). Star - Orion South Diamond Project & Fort à la Corne Diamond District Technical Presentation. Retrieved from:

    Cision (October 25, 2018). Star - Orion South Diamond Project Approved by Provincial Minister of Environment. Retrieved from:

    The Government of Saskatchewan (Accessed: May 10, 2019). Environmental Impact Statement. Retrieved from:↩︎

  12. Estevan Mercury (May 22, 2019). Equivalency agreement signed; will extend the life of two units at Boundary Dam. Retrieved from:

    The Government of Canada (May 3, 2019). An agreement of the equivalency of federal and Saskatchewan regulations for the control of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity producers in Saskatchewan, 2020. Retrieved from:↩︎

  13. Regina Leader-Post (June 3, 2019). Small towns reeling after Conexus Credit Union announces closure of nine branches across Saskatchewan. Retrieved from:

    Conexus Credit Union (June 3, 2019). Media Release: Banking is no longer a place to go, but a thing we do. Changes to Conexus' Service Delivery. Retrieved from:↩︎

  14. Swift Current Online (March 19, 2019). CN Rail Invests In Upgrades For Saskatchewan. Retrieved from:

    Canadian National Railway Company (March 18, 2019). CN investing more than $245 million to expand and strengthen Saskatchewan's rail infrastructure in 2019. Retrieved from:↩︎

  15. CBC News (May 14, 2019). Nutrien laying off 80 workers at Vanscoy potash mine. Retrieved from:

    Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (May 14, 2019). Nutrien to cut 80 jobs from Vanscoy potash mine. Retrieved from:

    650CKOM (May 14, 2019). Nutrien lays off 80 workers at Vanscoy mine. Retrieved from:↩︎

  16. Cision (April 18, 2019). Protein Industries Canada Issues First Call for Projects. Retrieved from:↩︎

  17. The Government of Canada (November 13, 2018). Protein Industries Canada Supercluster kicks into high gear. Retrieved from:↩︎

  18. Statistics Canada (Accessed May 10, 2019). Employment by industry, three-month moving average, unadjusted for seasonality, provinces and economic regions (x 1,000). Retrieved from:↩︎

  19. Yorkton This Week (March 15, 2019). Grain Millers expanding Yorkton plant. Retrieved from:↩︎

  20. Meadowlake NOW (May 22, 2019). Federal government announce investment in a bioenergy centre at NorSask mill. Retrieved from:↩︎

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