E Canada’s Jobs Recovery From The Pandemic Downturn Is Very Different From Past Recessions

Canadian employment posted a whopping 303,100 surge in March, completing the recovery of the second wave shutdown losses. The huge gain leaves jobs 296,000 shy of pre-pandemic levels (or down 1.5% since February 2020…Unfortunately, the latest third wave restrictions in many provinces point squarely to yet another big step back in next month's employment reading, likely similar to January's big drop. Still, the big message from today's report is that it is now quite clear that prior job losses can be recovered surprisingly quickly when the economy more fully re-opens.” (Douglas Porter, BMO, April 9, 2021)

The see-saw pattern of Canada’s economic response to the pandemic has also been reflected in an uneven pattern of the job’s recovery.

Sculpture, Art, Breadline, Bronze, Depression, 1930

Image Source: Pixabay

For example, in March Canada recorded a huge 303,000 rebound in employment and a decline in the unemployment rate to 7.5% from the previous month’s 8.2% level.

As one of the following charts illustrates, the Canadian jobs recovery has left total employment 296,0000 jobs (or 1.5%) below the former peak level in early 2020. However, employment in the Canadian sectors most directly impacted by the pandemic was 7.6% below its pre-crisis level in March

Total hours worked also rose strongly in March, which brought total hours employed to within 1.2% of its February 2020 peak levels. Nonetheless, the total hours worked for self-employed Canadians was 7.7% lower than February 2020 levels, while the working hours of regular employees returned to pre-pandemic levels in March.

Full-time employees accounted for more than 50% of the jobs rebound in March and part-time workers accounted for more than one-third of the monthly gains. Most of the jobs gained in March were in the hard-hit service-producing industries. In particular, the retail sector fully recovered its hefty January losses with employment increasing 95,000 in March. As well, the information, culture, and recreation services industry added 62,000 jobs in March, representing the first monthly increase since September 2020.

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