The closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 was devastating for the Canadian labour market, but the country’s employment rate rebounded in June.
Recent figures provided in the June issue of BMO’s Labour Market Card suggest that Canada has now recovered 41 per cent of the jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. Current unemployment rates in Canada were at 12.3 per cent in June, up 6.7 per cent since last year.
New Brunswick (NB) fared the best, with unemployment up only 2 per cent since last year to 9.9 per cent. It is the only province with a current unemployment rate below 10 per cent.
The city of Moncton, for example, one of New Brunswick’s three largest urban centres, lost only 2.7 per cent of the jobs it had a year earlier and has an unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent, well below the national average of 12.3 per cent.
While Nova Scotia (NS), Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) generally experience higher unemployment rates, these provinces are seeing year-over-year increases below the Canadian average.
Two other cities in the Atlantic provinces, namely St. John’s (NL) and Halifax (NS), were among the top ten cities in terms of labour market performance. The Atlantic provinces have so far been the least negatively impacted by the pandemic.
While Quebec experienced the largest decline in employment due to COVID-19, at 18.7 per cent, it also experienced the fastest recovery of all provinces in June, with a decline of only 7.8 per cent from pre-Covidian levels.
Ontario‘s current unemployment rate, its employment decline from COVID-19, and its employment recovery are on par with overall Canadian levels. In June, Ontario recorded an unemployment rate of 12.2 per cent.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan also experienced smaller declines in unemployment than other provinces, as well as the second and third smallest provincial declines in percentage points from pre-crisis levels (respectively 7.2 per cent and 7.3 percent). These two Prairie provinces, along with New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, are among the five Canadian provinces with unemployment rates below the national average.
Alberta‘s reliance on oil compounded the economic difficulties due to COVID-19 and the province was still at 10.3 per cent below pre-covid employment levels.
British Columbia had an unemployment rate of 13 per cent in June, up 8.4 percentage points from its pre-crisis levels.
Labour markets in major Canadian cities, such as Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary were hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Canadian economy began to recover from the 3 million jobs lost between February and April when restrictions on coronaviruses started to be lifted across the country.
The country’s economic recovery began quite moderately in May, with 290,000 people returning to work. However, the trend continued at an accelerated pace and the number of people returning to work rose sharply to 953,000 in June.
Over the last two months, the labour market has recovered by 40% and more than 1.24 million people have found employment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal government will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program until December of this year.
The CEWS program was created to help businesses keep their employees on the payroll and to encourage employers affected by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic to rehire laid-off workers. The program covers 75 per cent of wages, to a maximum of $847 per week, for workers at eligible businesses and non-profit organizations.
The federal government hopes that this program will give workers the certainty that they will receive the support they need during this time of crisis and that it will also contribute to reducing the rate of unemployment in the country.
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