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More than a million jobs lost in Canada last month

Last Updated Apr 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm PDT


More than a million jobs were lost in March, Statistics Canada says

The job losses were heavily driven by the COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – More than a million jobs were lost last month amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Canada lost 1,010,700 jobs in March, according to Statistics Canada, with full-time work falling by 474,000. The drop brings the unemployment rate to 7.8 per cent from 5.6 per cent in February.

The losses were heavily driven by the pandemic, which has resulted in mass layoffs country-wide.

The agency says the employment rate is now the lowest it’s been since April 1997 at 58.5 per cent, and adds the unemployment rate’s jump to 7.8 per cent is “the largest one-month increase since comparable data became available in 1976.”

The number of people who worked zero hours between March 15 to 21 rose by 1.3 million.

The loss of jobs across the country are expected to have a significant impact on the Canadian economy in the coming months, with Statistics Canada noting employment fell in all provinces.

However, almost all of the job losses reported last month were due to temporary layoffs, Statistics Canada says, adding workers expect to get back to work within six months.

The largest increases in the unemployment rate by province were recorded in three provinces — Quebec, where it rose to 8.1 per cent, Ontario, where it rose to 7.6 per cent, and B.C., where it rose to 7.2 per cent.

This grim outlook was not unexpected. Economists had been predicting the labour market would take a hit because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which took off in Canada in March. Meanwhile, in a note to his team last week, Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO, predicted as many as 600,000 jobs would be lost in March.

Most of the job losses last month were in the private sector, with the greatest employment declines observed for people between the ages of 15 and 24.

‘Not business as usual’ 

Statistics Canada explains measuring the labour market amid the COVID-19 pandemic is “not business as usual.”

“In March, 219,000 people were not in the labour force but had worked earlier in March and still wanted a job,” the agency’s website reads. “They were not counted as unemployed because they did not look for a job, presumably because of ongoing business shutdowns and the requirement to socially isolate. If this group were counted as unemployed, the adjusted unemployment rate would be 8.9%.”