E Canadian Job Market Rebounds, But Only For Part-time Workers

To fully understand current and emerging labour market trends, it is essential to consider employment change against the backdrop of population change, which totalled 1.1% (+334,000) between February 2020 and June 2021. In order to keep pace with this population growth and maintain a stable employment rate—that is, employment as a proportion of the population aged 15 and over—employment would have had to grow by 203,000. Instead, total employment was 340,000 lower in June than in February 2020.......Statistics Canada, June Labour Force Survey

The Canadian labour market is a long way from approaching, let alone returning to normal. As the quote above points out, the labour market continues to fall well short of pre-pandemic performance. Granted, starting in June a wide number of public health restrictions have been removed in several provinces. Most provinces have opened up, at least, for outdoor dining and entertainment activities; retail shopping has resumed, albeit under capacity restrictions, and personal care services are now open for business. 

The June survey is very clear that the benefits of re-opening remain uneven in the sense that a rising tide does not, in this instance, lift all boats, to wit:

  • Employment growth was entirely in part-time work which rose by 234,000 and mostly within the youth group, aged 15-24 as accommodation and food services re-opened; however, many part-time workers would prefer to have full-time employment and must settle for this second-best solution; overall, part-time employment levels remain the same as in February 2020;
  • Full-time jobs fell by 143,000 over the previous 2 months and has not increased in June; re-opening has not been beneficial for those seeking full-time work;
  • The number of self-employed individuals in June remains 7.2% lower than in February 2020;
  • The all-important total hours worked remained unchanged and 4% below pre-pandemic levels; total income has yet to fully recover;
  •  The underutilization rate decline slightly, but remains very high at 15.6%; this category takes into account those who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours, job seekers, workers temporarily laid off and those who want work but are so discouraged that they no longer seek employment; the underutilization rate is a good proxy for how far the economy remains below its potential.
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