Canada added 246,000 jobs in August, but employment still 1 million short of pre-COVID level

Canada’s economy added 246,000 jobs in August, a figure that pushed the jobless rate down 0.7 percentage points to 10.2 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that most of the new jobs recorded in the month were full-time work. The figure was in line with what economists had been expecting.

August’s number brings the four-month total of new jobs to almost two million since May. But because of the plunge in March and April, Canada still has 1.1 million fewer paid workers than it did in February, before COVID-19 hit.

But job losses aren’t the only way that the pandemic is impacting the job market. Many more people are finding themselves working less than they normally do, too. 

Statistics Canada says an additional 713,000 people who still had jobs during the month had what the data agency calls a “COVID-related absence” from work.

That brings the number of workers affected by the pandemic to 1.8 million. In April, that figure peaked at 5.5 million, with three million lost jobs and 2.5 million people working less.

The number of people who described themselves as being on “temporary layoff’ — meaning they expect to eventually return to their old job — declined to 230,000 last month. That number peaked at 1.2 million in April, but the figure going down is not necessarily good news, because it means those people may still be laid off, but it’s no longer “temporary.”

“Given a dwindling share of people indicating they’re on temporary layoff, the pace of recovery will likely ease further,” said economist Brendon Bernard with online job marketplace Indeed.

Almost every province added jobs, with the exception of Alberta and New Brunswick. Quebec added 54,000 new jobs, while Ontario gobbled up more than half of the national total, with 142,000 new positions.

Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Sri Thanabalasingam said that while the numbers on the whole were encouraging, they underline just how slow the recovery is likely to be from here on out.

“It will be difficult for the labour market to maintain the current pace of job gains,” Thanabalasingam said. “Future employment improvements will be closely tied to the path of the virus. This final third could be the longest stretch in the road to recovery for Canada’s labour market.”


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