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Job Report in Canada, March 2020 – With only partial impact of COVID, employment fell by more than one million

Employment fell by more than one million in March (-1,011,000 or -5.3%). The employment rate—or the proportion of people aged 15 and older who were employed—fell 3.3 percentage points to 58.5%, the lowest rate since April 1997.

Of those who were employed in March, the number who did not work any hours during the reference week (March 15 to 21) increased by 1.3 million, while the number who worked less than half of their usual hours increased by 800,000. These increases in absences from work can be attributed to COVID-19 and bring the total number of Canadians who were affected by either job loss or reduced hours to 3.1 million.

The unemployment rate increased by 2.2 percentage points to 7.8%, the largest one-month increase since comparable data became available in 1976. Unemployment increased by 413,000 (+36.4%), largely due to temporary layoffs. In addition, the number of Canadians who had worked recently and wanted to work, but did not meet the official definition of unemployed, increased by 193,000.

Infographic 1


Highlights

Sharp decrease in employment
In March, the number of employed people fell by more than one million (-1,011,000 or -5.3%). The employment rate, or the proportion of people aged 15 and older who were employed, fell 3.3 percentage points to 58.5%. This was the lowest employment rate since April 1997.

It is expected that the sudden employment decline observed in March will have a significant effect on the performance of the Canadian economy over the coming months (Release schedule). The employment decline in March was larger than in any of three significant recessions experienced since 1980 (see Chart 1).

Infographic 2
Magnitude of this unprecedented employment change compared with past shocks

Provincially, employment fell in all provinces, with Ontario (-403,000 or -5.3%), Quebec (-264,000 or -6.0%), British Columbia (-132,000 or -5.2%) and Alberta (-117,000 or -5.0%) reporting the largest declines.


Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are based on interviews with 56,000 households and more than 100,000 individuals every month. When used in coordination with other Statistics Canada employment data—including the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours and the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey—the LFS paints an accurate and current portrait of the Canadian labour market and Canada’s economic performance.

The March Labour Force Survey (LFS) results reflect labour market conditions during the week of March 15 to 21. By then, a sequence of unprecedented government interventions related to COVID-19—including the closure of non-essential businesses, travel restrictions, and public health measures directing Canadians to limit public interactions—had been put in place. These interventions resulted in a dramatic slowdown in economic activity and a sudden shock to the Canadian labour market. The slowdown continued beyond the LFS reference week and is likely to be more fully reflected in April LFS data.

Changes in employment, defined as those who work at a paid job or business, and unemployment, defined as those who are available to work, are internationally standardized concepts which capture some of this shock. To fully measure the size and extent of the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian workers and businesses, however, additional measures are required. This includes measures of Canadians who kept their job but worked reduced hours, and the number of people who did not look for work because of ongoing business closures.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ The Daily — Labour Force Survey, March 2020

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