Households with lower levels of education and earnings least likely to hold jobs that can be done from home
Some groups of individuals experienced disproportionate hardships in 2020 as Canada continued to experience the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, low-wage earners were much more severely impacted by the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada (StatCan).
In 2020, the average monthly layoff for workers in the bottom decile (lowest-ranked in a group divided in 10) when it comes to income was less than seven per cent, compared with just one per cent of those in the top decile.
By the end of last year, paid employment at significant hours was 39 per cent lower than in December 2019 for those in the bottom wage decile ─ compared to 16 per cent higher in the top wage decile.
About four in 10 Canadian workers are in jobs that can be done from home. However, while about 75 per cent of wives and over 65 per cent of husbands in the top decile can perform their employment tasks at home, less than 30 per cent of wives and 20 per cent of husbands in the bottom decile can do so.
Low-wage, racialized workers suffered as Toronto recorded high unemployment rates, according to a report released in November 2020.
Telework reveals inequalities
Some industries also appear to be suffering more compared with others as a result of the pandemic, according to the report.
In January 2021, the number of Canadians working from home rose by nearly 700,000 to 5.4 million, surpassing the 5.1 million who worked from home during the initial lockdowns in April 2020.
About four in 10 Canadian workers are in jobs that can plausibly be done from home, says the government, but households with lower levels of education and earnings are the least likely to hold jobs that can be done from home.
Based on 2019 data, telework capacity for workers in finance and insurance, educational services and professional, scientific and technical services was over 80 per cent, compared to 20 per cent for those in manufacturing, construction, accommodation and food services and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.
Employment in professional, scientific and technical services returned to pre-COVID-19 levels by September 2020 and, as of January 2021, was 4.9 per cent above levels observed in February 2020.
Meanwhile, as of January 2021, employment in accommodation and food services was still down one-third from pre-pandemic levels. The sector also accounted for 45 per cent of net employment losses since COVID-19 began.
Canada gained 303,000 jobs in March this year, a 1.6-per-cent increase from the previous month. On March 10, new job postings by employers in Canada stood at 0.3 per cent year-over-year, marking the first time the data reached over zero since March 18, 2020, when it was 0.7 per cent over the previous year, according to another report.
Declines for youth
In December 2020 and January 2021, total employment declined by 266,000, and more than half of these losses (148,000) were among young Canadians.
The unemployment rate among youth stood at 19.7 per cent in January 2021 and 17.8 per cent in December 2020. Last year, it was at its highest at 29.1 per cent in May. The unemployment rate for youth averaged 20 per cent.
As of January, 15- to 24-year-olds accounted for 45 per cent or 377,000 of net employment losses of 858,000 since the onset of the pandemic.
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of postsecondary students also indicated that their education had been disrupted by the lockdowns. Youth not attending school, plus a decrease in employment, contributed to historic highs in NEET (not in education, employment or training) rates, which hit 24 per cent in April 2020, the highest in 20 years.
In Canada, from February to April 2020, the unemployment rate increased by 20.4 per cent for young women (to 28.4 per cent) and 14.3 per cent for young men (to 27.1 per cent) aged below 25, compared to an increase of just over six per cent for older workers, according to a separate report from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
“The COVID-19 economic crisis is hitting young people — especially women — harder and faster than any other group. If we do not take significant and immediate action to improve their situation, the legacy of the virus could be with us for decades. If their talent and energy is side-lined by a lack of opportunity or skills it will damage all our futures and make it much more difficult to rebuild a better, post-COVID economy,” said ILO director-general Guy Ryder.