Canada’s ups and downs in the COVID-19 crisis revealed

Canada employment recovery

The effect of easing COVID-19 restrictions on employment in Canada is now revealed by new data. The data gives information on payroll and earning hours from May.

The data collected in the survey conducted by Statistics Canada survey shows that in May 2020, average weekly earnings increased. Statistics Canada gives monthly information on payroll employment, hours worked, and earnings in Canada. Along with Labor Force Survey, it’s currently monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian job scene.

Testing times

The total number of employees on payroll decreased while the average weekly earnings increased in May. Here’s how average weekly earnings are calculated:

There was a decrease in total hours worked in May compared to April. Between February and May, there was a loss of 16.9% in total hours worked. But the average weekly hours slightly hiked and brought the average hours worked per week to a little over 34.

There was an increase in construction in the payroll department in May. This was the only sector that had gains which came especially as a result of more specialty trade contractors.

The gains in construction were entirely seen in Quebec. Here, the construction of residences was permitted to resume in the middle of April.

In contrast, employment in the field of construction at the national level was still down by around 20% when compared to February.

Average weekly earnings went up in the construction sector compared to May 2019.

Retail sales rose by 18.7% in May. Nevertheless, it’s still 20% below the level achieved in February. The increase was partially seen in payroll employment.

Over the months, there has been a progressive slowing down of job losses. In April, the retail sector saw a loss of close to 279,000 compared to May. In May, close to 41,800 people lost their jobs. Also, in May, the total hours worked in the retail trade increased 2.6% compared to February.

There were certain retail industries that had increase in employment in May. A 4% increase was seen in case of building material and garden equipment supply dealers, and Motor vehicle and parts dealers.

In the retail trade sector, the average weekly earnings in May were $676. This was an increase of 10.5% in comparison with the same time in 2019.

Looking at the hard-hit sectors, it was found that food services and accommodation were suffered most in May. There was a job loss to the count that marked the largest decline in payroll employment. The sector has shown a downward trend since February. Close to 770,400 jobs were lost since February. This was the largest variation over this period when compared to all other sectors. The average weekly earnings in food services and drinking places were $447.75 in May. This was the lowest among all subsectors, though up 16.5% compared with May 2018.

A decline of 5.6% was seen in oil and gas extraction, quarrying and mining. Manufacturing of half a percentage point majorly offset the rise in construction. There was a decline of 27.5% since February in support activities for oil and gas extraction, quarrying, and mining. The average weekly earnings were down 1.8% in this industry, compared to May 2019. Manufacturing declined in every industry. The number of payroll employees declined 16% since February. There was a loss of 250,000 jobs.

Employment in the goods-producing sector in May was below its February level. This was even after an increase in the number of jobs.

Job losses are still plaguing the entertainment, recreation, and arts sector there was a sharp decline from February to May. This was largely due to the losses in the gambling, recreation, and amusement industries. Similar fate was shared by related industries, spectator sports, and performing arts.

Recovery now

According to the Labor Force Survey, Canada had a sharper initial recovery when compared to the economic downturns that happened before.

In May and June, following the easing of restrictions, employment improved to 9.2% of the levels in February. This was swifter when compared to the recovery time of previous economic downturns. In those times it took years to recover.

The survey suggested that labor market recovery in Canada was underway in June in all sectors and provinces.

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