'Labour market recovery walked a tightrope during the fall, but ultimately succumbed to the pressure of the pandemic'
Canada’s employment numbers dropped by 63,000 (0.3 per cent) in December, the first drop since April, according to Statistics Canada’s (StatCan) Labour Force Survey (LFS).
This follows gains of 62,000 in November and 84,000 in October and an average of 2.7 per cent per month from May to September.
Things could have been worse, says Brendon Bernard, Indeed Canada economist.
“The labour market recovery had been walking a tightrope during the fall, but ultimately succumbed to the pressure of the pandemic. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that things could’ve been worse. December’s drop was nowhere near the scale of the declines we saw last spring, and some areas of the economy, like manufacturing and professional services, still achieved solid gains.”
However, the December numbers are already “a bit far in the rear-view mirror,” he says.
“The crisis has intensified since early December, especially in central Canada, and tighter restrictions could be coming.”
But overall employer hiring appetite on Indeed held up fairly well through the end of the year, highlighting that many employers are looking ahead to brighter prospects later this year, says Bernard.
“Nonetheless, it’s clear once again that the job market can’t recover amid a raging pandemic."
A moderate hiring pace is to be expected over the first three months of 2021, according to a Manpower survey.
In December, 1.1 million Canadian workers were directly affected by COVID-19 economic shutdown. This includes a 636,000 drop in employment since February and 488,000 more Canadians who were employed but working less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID.
In April, the number of affected Canadian workers was 5.5 million, including three million who had lost their jobs and 2.5 million who were employed but had experienced COVID-related absences from work.
Also, though private sector employment dropped by 15,200 in December, public sector employment gained 14,600 jobs.
Among industries, accommodation and food services (-56,700) lost the most jobs in December, followed by information, culture and recreation (-18,800), and business, building and other support services (-10,500). Healthcare and social assistance also lost 6,000 jobs.
Construction (-2,900), agriculture (-2,100) and natural resources (-1,200) recorded smaller losses.
Meanwhile, professional, scientific and technical services (+16,800), manufacturing (+15,400), public administration (+13,700) recorded the biggest gains.
Wholesale and retail trade (+9,400); educational services (+4,300); transportation and warehousing (+2,800); finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+2,000); and utilities (+2,200) also had increases in job numbers.