Saskatchewan boasts positive economic outlook

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Saskatchewan received a double dose of good economic news this week.

Both the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Monthly Business Barometer and the Provincial Monitor report from BMO Economics showcased a positive economic outlook for the province.

CFIB's Monthly Business Barometer placed Saskatchewan second highest in the survey which ranks business owners optimism. Saskatchewan's index was 72.1 in April, ahead of the national index of 66.4, and trailing only Alberta at 73.3 in the national business outlook.

Sixty-four per cent of Saskatchewan small business owners rate their overall state of business as good – the highest in Canada and well ahead of the national average of 42 per cent. In addition, 28 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next three to four months (21 per cent nationally) and only seven per cent plan to decrease (12 per cent nationally).

The full report is available at www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer.

The BMO Economics Provincial Monitor report has forecast Saskatchewan to be among the national leaders in helping drive economic growth. The report highlights that Saskatchewan's Real Gross Domestic Product level expanded 4.8 per cent in 2011, and should continue to grow at a near three per cent pace this year. They are calling for the GDP to grow by 2.9 per cent this year and 3.1 per cent in 2013.

Fueling the optimism in the province is resource sector activity, led by potash investments, plus a forecast growth of 13.3 per cent in oil production during the fiscal year.

This strength in resources is spilling over into other sectors of the economy, including retail and construction.\

"Retail sales jumped 8.5 per cent in 2011, the strongest pace in Canada, while capital spending rose more than 10 per cent, and is estimated to grow a further 4.2 per cent this year," stated Robert Kavcic, Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Labour markets also remain tight, with the jobless rate sitting at 4.8 per cent in March - Canada's lowest - helping to drive solid wage growth."

"Saskatchewan continues to be a very attractive place to live, work and invest," said Mike Darling, District Vice-President, Saskatchewan, BMO Bank of Montreal. "With a solid economic and fiscal foundation, we are seeing strong demand for labour, robust consumer confidence, and businesses that are investing and building for future growth - not just in the resources sector, but across the entire spectrum."

The full Provincial Monitor can be downloaded at www.bmocm.com/economics.

Organizations: Canadian Federation of Independent Business, BMO Economics

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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