Saskatchewan: all indicators are in excellent shape, and yet. . .

According to the latest study by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Saskatchewan, published in the beginning of October, their province is the best place to find a job. Saskatchewan recorded the second-highest growth in real revenue across all jurisdictions, and in 2006 alone, created 8,100 new jobs. Real wages also increased 0.9% to $20.37 an hour.

Many factors are behind this bright picture, particularly the growth in demand, increase in the price of natural resources like oil and uranium, and increase in the price of agricultural products. Neighbouring Alberta and the pressure of its exponential growth on salaries have also benefited Saskatchewan’s economy.

However, Saskatchewan is not yet attracting enough qualified workers to support and maintain its growth. The increase in labour (+6,200 people in 2006) has not kept up with the unbridled rate of growth of the provincial economy and has not managed to fill all job openings.

Where is the growth coming from?

The participation of women in the labour force increased by 3.5%. This is no doubt linked to the efforts made by Saskatchewan to go from second-last place in terms of salary equity in 2001 to second place in 2006.

Young people also benefited from this growth, with youth unemployment dropping from 10.1% in 2005 to 8.6% in 2006.

Against all expectations, though, seniors enjoyed the most growth, with people in the 60-64 age group seeing the largest increase in employment at 12.1%.

Meanwhile, people 70 years of age and over, who represent 15.4% of the province’s population, saw a 6% increase in employment. This trend is not just the result of the province’s growth. According to Nola Joorisity, CEO of the Chartered Accountants of Saskatchewan, the increase in jobs for older workers is largely a function of the natural aging of the population.

The First Nations were not left behind—off-reserve aboriginals saw an increase of 12% in employment.

Provincial actions to reduce the spread between the various population groups seems to be paying off. But despite these healthy indicators, Nola Joorisity remains uncertain about the future of Saskatchewan, as she recently told The StarPhoenix: “Labour shortages are only going to increase, to the point that they will constrain the economy.

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