The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on Canada’s labour force, as 1,994,000 full time and part time workers lost their jobs just last month.
Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey for April 2020 paints a grim picture of how the pandemic has affected workers, indicating a 15.7 per cent drop in employment since February.
However when counting those who became unemployment for reasons other than the COVID-19 induced economic shut down, that rate rises to 17.8 per cent in April.
Between February and April, the nation experienced a 113 per cent rise in the overall unemployment rate.
According to the government agency, the magnitude of decline since February is unprecedented and “far exceeds declines observed in previous labour market downturns”.
In April, nearly everyone (97 per cent) who reported as newly unemployed were temporarily laid off which indicates that they expect to return to working for their former employers once the economy starts to reopen.
The pandemic has hit workers across all provinces in Canada, with every province experiencing employment declines of over 10 per cent since February.
According to B.C. Finance Minister Carole James, the province saw an 11.5 per cent drop in employment rate in April, amounting to 264,100 jobs lost in April.
A staggering 396,500 jobs were lost in March and April. In contrast, B.C. had a mere 5 per cent unemployment rate before the start of the pandemic, which James says was “leading the country” when it comes to employment rates.
The economic sectors most impacted in B.C. were food services, wholesale, and retail, with 47 per cent of job losses in the past two months focused on these industries.
“The personal and economic pain that COVID-19 has caused around the world is unprecedented in our lifetime, but there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Minister James.
Data from the Labour Force Survey are based on interviews with more than 50,000 households and approximately 100,000 individuals every month.