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Saskatchewan says economy is rebounding despite 12.5% unemployment rate

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Saskatchewan's unemployment is now at 12.5 per cent, according to Statistics Canada's latest Labour Force Survey. File / Global News

The Saskatchewan government is feeling confident its economy is on the rebound.

This comes despite the unemployment rate being 12.5 per cent at the end of May, according to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey released Friday.

By the end of April, the unemployment rate in the province was 11.3 per cent. Saskatchewan’s unemployment rate is, however, the second-lowest among provinces and below the national average of 13.7 per cent.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan loses nearly 53K jobs from March to April: Statistics Canada

“The Saskatchewan workforce is still being seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but there are a number of signs that show Saskatchewan’s economy is both recovering faster, and was less impacted, than other provinces,” said Jeremy Harrison, immigration and career training minister, in a statement.

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“We have the second-lowest unemployment rate in Canada and the number of people working rose in May, which is a strong, positive sign in the COVID-19 era.  The Saskatchewan economy is positioned to strongly improve as we move forward with the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan.”

In Saskatchewan, there were 600 more jobs in May than April, while 87 per cent of those working in February were working in May.

READ MORE: Nearly 21K jobs lost in Saskatchewan in March due to COVID-19: Statistics Canada

Since February, the number of hours worked in the province has dropped by 9.1 per cent. It’s the second-lowest decline in provinces. Nationally, the average decline in the number of hours worked over that same period is 19.3 per cent.

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“Looking forward, we are seeing positive economic news in Saskatchewan, including announcements about helium and lithium recently,” Harrison said.

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“These new investments will bring jobs and investment to communities across the province and will help lift our economy out of the current challenges facing markets globally.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canada lost 1 million jobs in March

The province said businesses in Saskatchewan are faring better than other jurisdictions, claiming to have closed fewer than other provinces did.

“This speaks to the strength of Saskatchewan’s economy and a strong reopening plan aiding in economic recovery,” the province said in a release issued on Friday.

Despite the optimism from the provincial government, the Saskatchewan NDP has laid out three actions it believes the province should take right now to strengthen the economy going forward.

First, to put Saskatchewan businesses and workers first through a Sask-first procurement plan that helps keep jobs in the province. Secondly, make the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency program more accessible.

Saskatchewan tops up economic stimulus package by $2 billion
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Finally, to end the six-month lockout between Regina’s Co-op Refinery and its workers, which would put 800 Saskatchewan people back to work.

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“New Democrats have urged Premier Moe and this Sask. Party government to protect jobs and small businesses, but clearly not enough has been done,” Opposition Leader Ryan Meili said.

“We know that Saskatchewan’s economy was already shrinking before COVID – and now the Premier’s lack of action to put Saskatchewan workers and businesses first is making things worse.”

Saskatchewan continues its reopen plan with Phase 3 beginning on June 8.