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Employment continues to rebound in August

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Statistics Canada’s August Labour Force Survey (LFS) released on Sept. 4, shows that as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, employment numbers continue on a positive, upward trend.
The latest data shows that employment rose by 246,000 (+1.4%) in August, compared with 419,000 (+2.4%) in July. Combined with gains of 1.2 million in May and June, this brought employment to within 1.1 million (-5.7%) of its pre-COVID February level.
The report also showed that the number of Canadians who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19 fell by 259,000 (-14.6%) in August.
Combined with declines in May, June and July, this left COVID-related absences from work at 713,000 (+88.3%) above February levels.
As of the week of Aug. 9-15, the total number of Canadian workers affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown stood at 1.8 million. In April, this number reached a peak of 5.5 million, including a 3.0 million drop in employment and a 2.5 million increase in COVID-related absences from work.
The report is very detailed and looks not only at different economic sectors, but also at the labour market conditions of population groups designated as visible minorities. Through the addition of a new survey question and the introduction of new statistical methods, the LFS is now able to more fully determine the impact of the COVID-19 economic shutdown on diverse groups of Canadians.

Here are some highlights and you can read the full report via the link at the bottom:

“The number of Canadians working from home declines for the fourth consecutive month
In April, at the height of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, 3.4 million Canadians who worked their usual hours had adjusted to public health restrictions by beginning to work from home. This number has fallen each month since May, when the gradual easing of public health restrictions began, and reached 2.5 million in August.
Among Canadians who worked their usual hours in August, the total number working from home fell by nearly 300,000 compared with July, while the number working at locations other than home increased by almost 400,000...

Employment growth concentrated in full-time work
All of the employment increase in August was in full-time work, which rose by 206,000 (+1.4%), while the number of part-time workers was little changed.
Nevertheless, full-time employment stood at 93.9% of pre-pandemic levels in August, compared with 96.1% for part-time work. In the months prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, full-time employment had reached record highs, while growth in part-time work was relatively flat. Compared with 12 months earlier, full-time employment was down 5.4% in August, while part-time work decreased 5.1%...

Unemployment rate continues to fall while labour force participation recovers
The unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 10.2% in August. As a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate had more than doubled from 5.6% in February to a record high of 13.7% in May. By way of comparison, during the 2008/2009 recession, the unemployment rate rose from 6.2% in October 2008 and reached a peak of 8.7% in June 2009. It took approximately nine years before it returned to its pre-recession rate.
The unemployment rate fell most sharply in August among core-aged women aged 25 to 54 years old, down 1.2 percentage points to 7.5%, the lowest unemployment rate among all major groups. This decline was largely due to employment increases, as overall labour force participation was unchanged from July. The unemployment rate for core-aged men fell 0.7 percentage points to 8.1%, also the result of increased employment, with little change in their labour market participation... 

Temporary layoffs continue to decline, approaching pre-COVID levels
The unemployed include three main groups of people: those on temporary layoff who expect to return to a previous job within six months; those who do not expect to return to a previous job and are looking for work; and those who have arrangements to begin a new job within four weeks.
The number of Canadians on temporary layoff rose from 99,000 in February to a record 1.2 million in April, before falling to 460,000 by July. In August, the number of Canadians on temporary layoff continued to decline sharply, falling by half (-49.9%) to 230,000...

Number of job searchers increases for the sixth consecutive month
In August, 1.8 million Canadians were looking for work, following an increase that month of 93,000 (+5.4%) and a total increase since February of 782,000 (+75.6%). In comparison, the number of job searchers increased by 403,000 (+40.0%) during the 2008/2009 recession...

The number of people wanting a job but not searching holds steady
The number of people who wanted to work but did not search for a job was little changed in August. If people in this group were included as unemployed, the adjusted unemployment rate would be 13.0%. The adjusted unemployment rate was 13.8% in July and 7.3% in February.

Labour underutilization rate continues to decline
Labour underutilization occurs when people who could potentially work are not working, or when people could work more hours than they are currently. The "labour underutilization rate" combines those who were unemployed, those who were not in the labour force but who wanted a job and did not look for one, and those who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19...

Differences persist in labour market conditions of diverse groups of Canadians
As part of Statistics Canada's ongoing commitment to understanding the impact of COVID-19 on diverse groups of Canadians, a new question was added to the Labour Force Survey in July, asking respondents aged 15 to 69 to report the population groups to which they belong. This new information will be used on an ongoing basis to shed light on the evolving labour market conditions of population groups designated as visible minorities, including the extent to which these are shaped by regional and sectoral conditions...

Unemployment remains high for Arab, Black and Southeast Asian Canadians in August
As in July, the national unemployment rate in August (11.1% among the population aged 15 to 69, not seasonally adjusted) masks significant differences across population groups. For example, Arab (17.9%), Black (17.6%) and Southeast Asian (16.6%) Canadians continued to have significantly higher unemployment rates than Canadians who were not a member of a population group designated as a visible minority and who did not identify as Indigenous (9.4%, not seasonally adjusted)...

Employment recovery slows in accommodation and food services and in retail trade
Accommodation and food services as well as retail trade were among the industries hardest hit by the initial COVID-19 economic shutdown. By April, employment had fallen to half (-50.0%) of its pre-pandemic level in accommodation and food services and to 77.1% of its pre-COVID-19 level in retail trade. Starting in May, employment rebounded in both sectors as many provinces began reopening their economy.
Employment growth in accommodation and food services rose by 18.4% per month on average from May to July. In August, however, the pace of growth in the industry slowed to 5.3% (+49,000). Despite these recent gains, employment in accommodation and food services was at 78.9% of its February level. August marked the fifth full month of international travel restrictions, which continues to affect industries with strong ties to tourism…

You can read the full report here.

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