OTTAWA: Canada added 246,000 jobs in August as most coronavirus restrictions eased and businesses reopened, cutting the unemployment rate to 10.2 percent, the national statistics agency said Friday. With those gains, the Canadian economy has now recovered almost two-thirds of the jobs lost since March when a lockdown was ordered to slow the spread of the outbreak.
Some 1.1 million positions have yet to be recouped, according to Statistics Canada. “The labor market recovery continued in August, but the going is getting tougher,” CIBC analyst Andrew Grantham said, noting that the latest figures were in line with forecasts. Grantham pointed in a research note to “reopening plans having largely gone as far as they will go before a vaccine is available.” As such, he said, “we will be entering a new phase of the recovery where the path (to) higher employment is slower and potentially uneven,” especially if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases.
In the months prior to Canada’s coronavirus shutdown, full-time employment had reached record highs, while growth in part-time work was relatively flat. As a result of the lockdown, the unemployment rate had more than doubled from 5.6 percent in February to a record high of 13.7 percent in May. All of the August new jobs were full-time, said Statistics Canada. But employment remains far below pre-pandemic levels for low-wage workers and youth, it said. Unemployment among Arab, Black and Southeast Asian Canadians also continues to be higher than the average.
In August, employment continued to increase at a faster pace in the services-producing sector (+218,000 jobs) than in the goods-producing sector (+28,000). Accommodation and food services as well as retail trade were among the industries hardest hit by the initial shutdown. In the goods sector, August gains in manufacturing were partially offset by a decline in the number of people working in natural resources industries. Going forward, nearly a quarter of manufacturers expect to add more employees over the next three months, according to the labor survey.
The number of Canadians working from home continued to fall in August for a fourth consecutive month to 2.5 million, from 3.4 million at the peak. As schools started planning for fall reopenings, employment in educational services, meanwhile, rose sharply in August. The number of job seekers has also continued to rise over the past six months. —AFP