COVID-19 has not only killed more than 4,000 Canadians, it’s also had a devastating impact on the labour force.
This morning, Statistics Canada reported that nearly two million jobs were lost in April. Of those, 74 per cent were full-time.
It’s driven up the national unemployment rate to 13 per cent—the highest since December 1982, when the jobless rate reached 13.1 per cent
The devastating April numbers came after more than a million jobs, mostly part-time, were lost across Canada in March.
“The April unemployment rate would be 17.8 per cent, when adjusted to reflect those who were not counted as unemployed for reasons specific to the COVID-19 economic shutdown,” Statistics Canada reported.
“During the week of April 12, 1.1 million people were not in the labour force but had worked recently (in March or April) and wanted to work,” the agency reported. “They were not counted as unemployed but were counted as not in the labour force because they did not look for work, presumably due to ongoing business closures and very limited opportunities to find new work.”
According to Statistics Canada, 97 per cent of the newly unemployed were on temporary layoffs, “indicating that they expected to return to their former employer as the shutdown is relaxed.”
“While women accounted for a disproportionate share of job losses in March, declines in April were larger among men, resulting in a narrowing of the gender gap in cumulative employment losses,” Statistics Canada stated. “Among the total population aged 15 and older, employment losses from February to April totalled 1,537,000 (-16.9 per cent) for women and 1,468,000 (-14.6 per cent) for men.”
The impact on cities
The economic contraction has been most severe in cities. In Toronto, 539,000 jobs have disappeared, a drop of 15.2 per cent since February. The city’s unemployment rate is 11.1 per cent, up 5.6 per cent from two months ago.
Montreal lost 404,000 jobs, or 18 per cent, since February. Its unemployment rate is 18.2 per cent, up 13.4 per cent in two months.
Vancouver lost 17.4 per cent of its employment, shedding 256,000 jobs since February. Vancouver’s unemployment rate is 10.8 per cent, up from 4.6 per cent in February.
Quebec is the province with the highest unemployment rate, 17 per cent in April, up from 8.1 per cent in March. It’s also been the hardest hit by COVID-19.
B.C.’s unemployment rate jumped from 7.2 per cent in March to 11.5 per cent in April as more than 250,000 jobs were lost. Over the same period, Ontario’s jobless rate rose from 7.6 per cent to 11.3 per cent.
“In both the services-producing and the goods-producing sectors, the employment decreases observed in the two months since February were proportionally larger than the losses observed during each of the three significant labour market downturns since 1980,” Statistics Canada stated.
An additional 3.3 million Canadians worked from home in April. And 21.1 per cent of Canadians said they lived in a household that was having trouble meeting immediate financial obligations.
Young people saw the most rapid declines in employment, with 873,000 jobs lost from February to April – 34.2 per cent of all jobs for those aged 15 to 24. The student unemployment rate for those from 15 to 24 has shot up to 31.7 per cent (not adjusted for seasonality).
Very recent immigrants (five years or less in Canada) have also been particularly hard hit, experiencing a 23.2 per cent reduction in employment since February compared to 14 per cent among those born in Canada.
“This is partly because this group is more likely than people born in Canada to work in industries which have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown, such as accommodation and food services, and less likely to work in less severely-impacted industries, such as public administration,” Statistics Canada stated.
This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.