Canada’s economy added 418,500 new jobs in July, the third consecutive month of job gains as the Canadian economy recovers from the initial shock of the coronavirus pandemic.The national unemployment rate — now at 10.9%, down from 12.3% last month — is also moving in the right direction.These promising economic signs are in large part thanks to Canada’s success in slowing the spread of the virus in combination with substantial public spending to stimulate economic activity. The responsible actions of individuals, communities, workers, and employers, who continue to maintain physical distancing requirements and restrictions on large gatherings, has also contributed to the economic upswing, allowing more people to return to work.It should be noted, however, that most employment gains in July were in part-time work, which increased by 345,000 (+11.3%), compared with a much smaller increase of 73,000 (+0.5%) in full-time work. Moreover, July’s job gain, when added to the 953,000 in June and the 290,000 from May, still leaves Canada with 1.3 million fewer jobs than it had in February, before widespread lockdowns to limit the spread of the virus began.Canada still has a way to go.Why so many part-time jobs in July?StatsCan, the government agency that puts together these figures, notes that the COVID-19 labour market shock was felt particularly hard in part-time work. From February to April, losses in part-time work (-29.6%) were significantly heavier than in full-time employment (-12.5%). This was due to a number of factors, including part-time work being more prevalent in industries that were most affected by the economic shutdown, such as retail trade, accommodation, and food services. Despite large gains in July, however, employment remains well below pre-COVID-19 levels in accommodation and food services.Part-time work is now showing something closer to a V-shaped recovery than full-time work, which is taking longer to recover. Growth in part-time work has outpaced full-time growth in each of the past three months. With July’s gains, part-time work is now closer to its pre-COVID level (-5.0%) than full-time employment (-7.5%).The slower growth in full-time work is reflected in an increase in the proportion of part-time workers who would rather be putting in full-time hours. In July 2019, 22.2% of those working less than 30 hours per week would have preferred full-time work. One year later, this proportion had increased to 29.7%, indicating that the economic shutdown and subsequent reopening has resulted in a reduction, at least temporarily, in the number of hours being offered by employers.Employment increased strongly in the services-producing sector (+348,000; +2.5%), driven by gains in wholesale and retail trade and in accommodation and food services. The services-producing sector has now reached 93.0% of its pre-COVID February level, essentially the same level of recovery as in the goods-producing sector (93.1%).Newcomers enjoy upward trend in employmentThe employment rate among very recent immigrants (those who arrived within the past five years) rose for a third consecutive month in July, up 2.1 percentage points to 60.5%. The month-over-month increase in this group’s employment rate was greater than the increases observed among landed immigrants of more than five years (+0.8 percentage points to 54.5%), and those born in Canada. Employment among recent immigrants is actually slightly higher than people born in Canada, who now show an employment rate of 59.1%.The employment rate is defined as the number of employed persons expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over, whereas the unemployment rate is defined as unemployed persons expressed as a percentage of the labour force. Therefore, the unemployment rate and employment rate together don’t necessarily add up to 100.Employment increases in most provincesIn Ontario, Canada’s most popular destination province for newcomers, employment rose by 151,000 (+2.2%) in July, building on an increase of 378,000 in June and bringing employment to 91.7% of its pre-pandemic level. The initial easing of COVID-19 restrictions occurred later in Ontario than in most other provinces. Indeed, restrictions have been eased more slowly in certain parts of Ontario, including Toronto, than in other parts. The unemployment rate in Ontario now stands at 11.3%, slightly above the national average but with scope for further decreases if further reopening goes according to plan.Employment in Quebec increased by 98,000 (+2.4%) in July, led by increases in part-time work. This added to gains in the previous two months and brings employment in Quebec to 94.4% of its pre-COVID level. Quebec’s unemployment rate decreased to 9.5%, the third consecutive monthly decrease.The number of people employed in British Columbia increased by 70,000 (+3.0%) in July, reaching 93.5% of the February employment level, with the unemployment rate falling to 11.1%. Vancouver, however, is lagging slightly behind BC as a whole; employment in the city and its surrounding suburbs is at 89.9% of the February level.Alberta showed its first decrease in unemployment since the economic shutdown, dropping to 12.8% from 15.5% last month. Employment in Alberta increased by 67,000 (+3.2%) in July, including gains in both full-time and part-time work.Employment in Saskatchewan rose by 13,000 (+2.5%) while the unemployment rate fell to 8.8%. Neighbouring Manitoba increased (+12,000) for the third consecutive month and the unemployment rate declined to 8.2%.Out east, employment in Newfoundland and Labrador increased by 4,300 (+2.1%) and the unemployment rate dropped to 15.6%.In Nova Scotia, employment rose by 3,400 (+0.8%) in July, reaching 92.7% of its February level. The unemployment rate in the province declined to 10.8%.Employment in Prince Edward Island rose by 1,100 in July (+1.5%), adding to the gains in the previous two months. The unemployment rate declined to 11.7%.In New Brunswick, employment was little changed in July after recording employment gains of 39,000 from April to June. Employment in the province was at 96.6% of its pre-COVID February level, the most complete employment recovery of all provinces to date.Each province’s employment figures are far stronger in July than back in April, as shown by the table below, courtesy of StatsCan.
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