Canada Labour Market Sees Partial Rebound in May as COVID-19 Restrictions Eased

Canada Labour Market Sees Partial Rebound in May as COVID-19 Restrictions Eased
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Canada’s labour market saw a partial rebound from the impact of coronavirus in May, as employment rose by 290,000, the latest Canada jobs figures show.

The number of people working less than half their usual hours also dropped by 292,000, meaning Canada recovered 10.6 percent of the losses witnessed in March and April, according to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey.

Of the employment gains between April and May, three-quarters were in full-time work. However, between February and May, full-time work remains down more than 11 percent, while par-time work is down nearly 28 percent.

From February to April, Canada saw employment drop by 3 million and absences from work due to COVID-19 increase by 2.5 million.

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Canada Jobs: Provincial Picture

Provincial jobs markets varied significantly based on measures taken by governments to ease restrictions.

The reference week for the Labour Force Survey was May 10 to May 16. During this period, different provinces were more advanced in their easing of restrictions than others.

Quebec Records 80% of Gains

With Quebec among the first to ease restrictions outside the hotspot of Montreal, the French-speaking province accounted for nearly 80 percent of the nationwide gains in May.

Employment rose by 231,000, or 6.5 percent, while those working less than half their usual hours fell by 6.6 percentage points.

For Quebec, the figure represented a recovery of nearly 30 percent of the losses recorded in March and April due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Between April and May, Quebec’s unemployment rate fell 3.3 percentage points to 13.7 percent. 

In Quebec, construction workers returned to work in mid-April, while the retail trade and manufacturing industries outside Montreal return to work in early May. All three saw significant gains as industries with jobs that are difficult or impossible to do from home.

With Montreal, meanwhile, employment increased by 97,000, or 5.3 percent, despite the city being seen as Canada’s coronavirus hotspot.

Ontario Employment Declines

While Quebec recorded gains, Ontario was the only province where employment continued to fall in May, albeit at a slower pace. It should be noted that the majority of restrictions remained in place in Canada’s most populous province during the stated reference period of the survey.

Ontario lost 65,000 jobs in May, compared to 403,000 in March and 689,000 in April.

British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan

In other provinces, the employment picture fluctuated significantly based on provincial restrictions.

British Columbia saw employment increase by 43,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent as more people looked for work.

The gains came after B.C. announced the first phase of its reopening on May 6, while further restrictions were eased on May 19, falling outside the Statistics Canada reference period.

Alberta saw employment rise by 28,000 in May, after seeing a decline of 361,000 between February and April. The oil-rich province recorded an unemployment rate of 15.5 percent.

The partial easing of restrictions in Alberta began on May 14.

After beginning the easing of restrictions on May 4, Manitoba recorded an employment increase of 13,000 in May, with the vast majority of gains in the services sector.

Saskatchewan saw little change in its employment figures in May.

All 4 Atlantic Provinces See Employment Gains

Meanwhile, all four Atlantic provinces saw employment gains, including 17,000 in New Brunswick, 10,000 in Newfoundland & Labrador, 8,600 in Nova Scotia and 2,600 in Prince Edward Island.

May was a volatile month for Canada jobs figures. With most provinces well underway with the easing of restrictions heading into June, figures for this month are likely to present a clearer picture of how Canada is recovery from the pandemic.

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