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Nearly two million jobs lost in April, unemployment rate spikes to 13 per cent amid coronavirus measures

Last Updated May 8, 2020 at 9:56 am PDT

FILE - A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

The unemployment rate has jumped from 5.2 points to 13 per cent after millions of jobs lost in March, April

Nearly two million jobs were lost in Canada in April, Statistics Canada says

The significant loss of jobs has been largely driven by temporary layoffs amid the COVID-19 health crisis

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Jobs numbers took a massive hit because of economic measures brought in to help Canada weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly two million jobs were lost in April, following a drop of more than a million in March, according to Statistics Canada, bringing the unemployment rate to 13 per cent.

That represents an increase of 5.2 points from March — a massive jump and a real shock to the labour market when you consider the last time Canada saw a 13.1 per cent unemployment rate was during the recession in 1982. Those numbers grew over a 16 month period, whereas these new numbers span just a few weeks.

Almost all of the newly unemployed in April were on temporary layoffs, indicating they are expected to return to their former employers as the restrictions are relaxed.

“The April unemployment rate would beĀ 17.8%, when adjusted to reflect those who were not counted as unemployed for reasons specific to the COVID-19 economic shutdown,” the agency explained.

Economists on average had expected Canada to lose four million jobs, with an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to Refinitiv, a financial markets data firm. At the same time, the unemployment rate would have been 17.8 per cent had the agency’s labour force survey counted among the unemployed the 1.1 million who stopped looking for work — likely because the coronavirus economic shutdown has limited job opportunities.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada added the “magnitude of the decline in employment since February (-15.7%) far exceeds declines observed in previous labour market downturns,” saying the drop in the number of jobs is “unprecedented.”

-With files from The Canadian Press