Sask. adding 6K jobs last month good for workers, but means more inflation may be coming, says expert

Saskatchewan added more than 6,000 jobs last month as part of a rise in jobs across Canada, though an economist warns that it also shows inflation is likely. (Alex Lupul/CBC - image credit)
Saskatchewan added more than 6,000 jobs last month as part of a rise in jobs across Canada, though an economist warns that it also shows inflation is likely. (Alex Lupul/CBC - image credit)

Statistics Canada released its most recent labour force survey on Friday, detailing a Canada-wide increase in jobs, including in Saskatchewan, but an expert says it's not all good news, as it could mean there is more inflation to come.

In Saskatchewan, there were 6,100 more jobs filled in October compared to the previous month, a 1.1 per cent increase, when seasonally adjusted. Two categories — the business, building and other support services sector, and the education services sector — both jumped by about 1,600 workers.

Across Canada, there were 108,000 more jobs recorded in October, adjusted for seasonality, about 10 times what was expected. Wages also increased from 2021, with the average hourly income rising 5.6 per cent to $31.94 an hour.

However, swelling wages and more people in the workforce could also be an indicator that more inflation is on the way, said Jason Childs, an associate economics professor at the University of Regina.

"This labour force survey and today's numbers mean the interest rate rises from the Bank of Canada aren't doing what they were intended to do … and that's slow the economy down," Childs said.

"The fact that we have all these unfilled jobs and these really low unemployment rates and this positive wage pressure, that all says the economy is still overheated.…  We're not done with inflation."

Dayne Patterson/CBC
Dayne Patterson/CBC

Meanwhile, the health care and social assistance sector lost 1,200 jobs (about 1.3 per cent). The provincial Opposition latched on to this in a statement on the numbers.

Opposition critic for jobs and the economy Aleana Young called the reduction of health care and social assistance jobs "troubling."

She also pointed out that the province has had a 3.6 per cent full time job growth rate in the past decade, compared to the national average of 13.3 per cent.

"More people working in Saskatchewan is a good thing, and month-over-month, it's good to see more jobs. The problem is that this growth has not been sustained," Young said.

Where Sask. lost and gained jobs since Oct. 2021

Childs said that monthly fluctuations aren't as noteworthy as the year-over-year job changes and that he wouldn't want to read too much into the latest numbers.

Since October 2021, there have been about 19,800 more workers in the province.

Childs said that's a lot, but that people should temper their excitement as the province continues to rebound from fewer jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The largest spikes have been in the natural resource sector (20.5 per cent) and the professional, scientific and technical services sector (25 per cent).

"When the movements are that large they usually represent something real," he said.

"In the natural resource side, we are in the middle of a commodities boom, so that's only natural that we're going to be seeing that. That's a response to the higher prices for potash, oil and the like."

Childs also note that the workforce grew faster than the working age population, meaning it will put positive pressure on wages and make it easier to get a job.

Childs also said it is good to see more of the working age population either employed or actively looking for work. Labour force participation rose from 65.9 per cent to about 66.9 in the past month, "and that's really, really encouraging," he said.

"That's a sign of some of the supply constraints easing a little bit."

Childs also noted that the labour force statistics are the result of a survey, which means the numbers are not precise.

In Statistics Canada's previous report, the province had 2,200 fewer jobs while holding the country's lowest unemployment rate. In October, Saskatchewan was tied with Manitoba for the third lowest rate with 4.6 per cent, behind only British Columbia and Quebec. The national average is 5.2 per cent.

"Saskatchewan continues to see one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country," Minister of Immigration and Career Training Jeremy Harrison said.