Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Canada’s unemployment rate first jumped to the highest it had been in more than two decades. In just two years, it dropped to almost the lowest it has ever been. As in many countries, the Canadian job market struggled after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people had trouble finding work during the first few months of the pandemic. However, Canada has managed to create a staggering number of jobs since then. Now, the country’s job market is, arguably, in better shape than it was prior to the start of the pandemic.
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian job market had been enjoying a prolonged period of prosperity. From 2009 until 2019, Canada’s unemployment rate decreased almost every year, with a low in 2019 0f 5.7%, an all-time low for the country.
In February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, Canada’s unemployment rate was at 5.5%, only a slight increase from 2019 and there were some signs of encouragement. Employment amongst youth had increased, although with little change to other age groups. Additionally, a number of provinces had also seen increases in employment. Most notably, Quebec increased its employment by 20,000. Other provinces that had increased employment during this same period were Alberta, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
How COVID-19 Affected the Job Market
As COVID-19 began to spread, many nations required massive shutdowns of companies and businesses to combat the virus. People worldwide either had to work remotely or lost their jobs entirely. Canada was no exception to this as the number of jobs available decreased by more than 3 million in the months of March and April 2020.
Canada’s unemployment rate rose to 13.7% in May 2020, the highest it had been since 1993. Most of the jobs that Canada lost had been recovered during the summer of 2020 and yet, recovery efforts slowed as the virus began to ramp up again that fall. Another wave of job losses also occurred in January 2022 as a result of precautionary shutdowns in response to the Omicron variant.
The pandemic had the largest impact on women, young workers and workers with low wages. Unemployment for those between the ages of 15-24 rose far more sharply than any other age group. Before the pandemic, women had a lower unemployment rate than men. However, in May, unemployment spiked for both genders and women had the higher rate.
In just two years since the start of the pandemic, the Canadian job market has rebounded in impressive fashion. Not only did the country’s unemployment rate return to where it was prior to the shutdowns, but it was also even lower than it was in early 2020. In February 2022, Canada’s unemployment rate stood at 5.5%, lower than the 5.7% rate it was in February 2020. That is also just about the all-time low of 5.4% that it reached in 2019.
Much of the decrease in the unemployment rate can be due to Canada’s unprecedented job creation. The nation has been able to create thousands of jobs per month over several months. In November 2021, 154,000 jobs were added and 54,700 jobs were created in December. Following the temporary Omicron shutdown, Canada added 337,000 more jobs in February 2022.
While many jobs recovered thanks to businesses reopening after the start of the pandemic, the Canadian government also introduced various measures to improve the state of the job market. One of these was the Canada Recovery Hiring Program which helped employers rehire employees with an added boost to their salaries. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy allowed millions of Canadians to keep their jobs so that their employers could rehire them once the positions were available again. The Canada Recovery Hiring Program provided assistance to employers that would help them rehire employees, create new jobs and increase hours for those jobs. The combination of the policies and others allowed Canada’s job market to rebound tremendously.
After losing more than 3 million jobs at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has managed to get its job market in a better position than it was prior to the pandemic. Rapid job creation that shattered expectations has allowed millions of citizens to return to work and many to begin working. It appears that Canada has made the best of what was, otherwise, an unfortunate situation.
– Tyshon Johnson