Saskatchewan remains under the national average for unemployment but has posted three months of consecutive increases in unemployment according to the latest national report.
The provincial employment rate dropped 1.2 per cent between August 2022 and August 2023, according to data collected by Statistics Canada as part of its monthly Labour Force Survey.
The national unemployment rate is currently 5.5 per cent, and Saskatchewan skirts in just under the average at 5.4 per cent for August 2023. Unemployment in Saskatchewan a year ago was at 4.6 per cent. In June the rate was 4.7 per cent, in July it was 5.1 per cent.
For context, the employment rate refers to “the number of employed people as a percentage of the population aged 15 and older.”
Carla Beck, leader of the Opposition, said rising unemployment in a time of increased costs across the board is cause for concern.
“In a province like Saskatchewan, with the potential that we have here, consistently being last in the country is not acceptable,” said Beck.
“You don’t just get to pat yourself on the back for effort.”
Meanwhile, the government saw the same data set and saw a rosier picture.
The province pointed to the 4,600 new jobs added year-over-year in August as a victory, as is “the labour force climbing to 632,800, an all-time high. Monthly job gains showed 2,800 jobs created, ranking third in the country,” said the government in a press release.
In that same release Jeremy Harrison, minister of immigration and career training, said the province is inching ever closer to its goal of adding 100,000 jobs by 2030.
“Investment in Saskatchewan is driving our economic growth, but our strong labour force is critical to Saskatchewan’s continued advancement on our goal of making Saskatchewan the best place to live, work and raise a family,” said Harrison.
Beck said in the back-and-forth “he said, she said” of one side taking a victory lap while the other points at flaws means people need to ask themselves simple questions: “Are you better off than you were five years ago? Are your neighbours better off?”
As for unemployment, Beck said the province needs to step up and address, in particular, rising unemployment as a major issue and to not be content with narrowly being below the average across Canada.
“I don’t see a government, I don’t see a premier, that seems really serious about acknowledging a problem, let alone getting to work, turning around some of those really troubling trends,” said Beck.
As it stands among the provinces, Saskatchewan is third amongst provinces when it comes to the unemployment rate.