E Canada’s Employment Situation Takes A Turn For The Worse

Canada’s recovery process was severely knocked on its heels with the revelation that 207,000 jobs were lost in April, pushing up the national unemployment rate to 8.1%. The effects of the lockdowns instituted in the three largest provinces has taken a toll on every segment of the labour market. As bad as the headline numbers are, the devil is in the details. Breaking down the labour force survey into separate segments provides an insight into just how much change has and will continue to take place in the world of work. No longer can observers say that it is just a matter of waiting and all the jobs will return.  April’s numbers should put that complacency to rest. Some pertinent employment data include

  • Both full -time and part-time employment fell, by 129,000 and 78,000 respectively;
  • Number of employed who work less than half-time increased by 288,000;
  • Total work hours fell by 2.7% especially in educational services, food and hospitality services;
  • The numbers who work from home, at least half of their usual hours, increased by 100,000, to 5.1 million;
  • Youth (15-24 years) employment fell by 101,000, contributing to more young workers leaving the labour market; and,
  • Those who have been out of work more than 27 weeks increased by 486,000.

Besides the raw numbers of employed and unemployed, the labour market is undergoing significant changes. These changes include the location of work, the number of hours worked and the extent and duration of long-term unemployment. The long-term unemployed experience a whole set of problems, including an inability to get back to regular work, a loss of job skills and health issues. For the past 12 months, long-term unemployment increased in every age group and in both genders.

Moreover, private-sector employment continues to be bifurcated. Retail trade, hospitality, culture and recreation bore the brunt of recent job losses as lockdown restrictions went into force in early April in Ontario and BC. By comparison, employment in professional, finance, insurance and real estate services increased to the point of exceeding pre-COVID employment levels. For many in the latter category, business over the last 12 months has never been better.

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