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Release Date: January 24, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Several negative trends show signs of reversal, particularly in the province’s population and private sector growth, according to the results of the most recent Action Saskatchewan Report Card generated by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce and Sask Trends Monitor.
“After declining for seven consecutive quarters, the provincial population has now registered two consecutive increases,” said Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce President Ralph Boychuk. “This is a hopeful sign but these figures are preliminary estimates so it is probably premature to say that this marks the end of a decade-long drop in the population.” The recent increase was the result of a surge in the number of people moving or returning to Saskatchewan from other provinces rather than a drop in the number who are leaving.In the last Report Card it was noted that the strength of the provincial economy is making it easier for those who have trouble finding work to do so. This trend has continued and even accelerated in the last half of 2006. As Boychuk notes, “the employment rate is increasing among younger people, older people, those with lower levels of education, and Aboriginal youth.”
“There are higher employment rates for both younger and older workers. Employment is increasing in rural Saskatchewan and the off-Reserve Aboriginal population.”
One particular downside to the tight labour market, as identified in the last Report Card, is a drop in the number of young people attending school.
“The appeal of a paycheque is prompting more youth to drop out of high school or postpone enrolment in a post-secondary institution,” said Boychuk. “As a Chamber we continue to strongly encourage the Government to implement a policy to facilitate the granting of simultaneous high school and trades training credit to students who successfully complete approved accredited High School courses. This will allow students to complete their post-secondary education sooner, because they will not have to retake courses.”
On a positive note, the recent growth of the private sector out-paced public sector growth in Saskatchewan, although marginally. Data for 2006 indicates that private sector employment grew in 2006 with a 1.8% increase over the average in 2005. Public sector employment growth was slightly behind, reversing a long-standing trend, although only slightly at 1.3% over 2005.
“In spite of this, the share of total employment increased only slightly because employment in the public sector grew almost as quickly”, notes Boychuk. “We are encouraged that the short-term trend is upward for the private sector in this regard, butindicators also show that payrolls in the first three quarters of 2006 accounted for 62.9% of the provincial total compared with 63.7% for the same period in 2005.”
“While the private sector share of GDP and personal income are increasing, they are doing so slowly”, Boychuk notes, adding that the Chamber is looking for greater improvement in this regard.
Ralph Boychuk, President
(306) 953-5722 Prince Albert
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