The Economic and Social Contribution of the Public Sector to Rural Saskatchewan

Diane Martz, Kim Sanderson


As the economic and social landscape of rural Saskatchewan continues to change, the capacity of rural communities to remain viable is tenuous. Employment opportunities are a significant determinant of the economic viability of rural areas. In Saskatchewan, the public sector is an important component of the labour force, representing an estimated 23% of employment, with approximately 46% of those employment opportunities occurring in rural and northern areas. This represents more than 55,000 jobs with a further 21,762 jobs estimated as indirect employment supported by the public sector work. The estimated economic impact generated by these rural and northern jobs is represented by the direct public sector earnings of $1,856 million and a further $823 million in indirect expenditure generated from these earnings. The public sector also tends to employ highly skilled individuals and provides well-paying jobs. This is especially important for rural women as there are often fewer high waged opportunities for women in rural areas. In addition to economic benefits, these public sector employees bring skills and networks that generate economic and social benefits for the communities and rural
areas where they live and work. As services consolidate in larger centres rural communities continue to lose public facilities and the economic and social benefits generated by those who were employed there. Public sector employees contribute not only to the economic viability but also to the social capacity of their communities through their important roles as volunteers, often in leadership positions. To assess the economic and social impact of the public sector on rural communities, an analysis of the economic impacts of public sector employment and a survey of public sector employees in two Saskatchewan communities were undertaken. This research reports on the economic and social benefits that public sector employment brings to rural Saskatchewan.

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.