The pandemic and households

La pandémie et les ménages

Gérard Bérubé

May 30, 2020


  • Economy

Quebecers are frequently subjected to the direct impact of the effects of the pandemic on their personal finances.

As we have seen in the data of April on the use of Statistics Canada, the worst being coming in may. In mid-April, the quebec economy had lost 821 000 jobs, wiping out almost one in five jobs. You need to add people in employment, but who worked fewer hours (174 000), or not at all (685 000) for reasons related to the COVID-19. As a result, some 1.5 million workers in quebec were directly affected by the pandemic, highlighted the federal agency, or 34.5% of the québec workforce.

In order to measure further the impact of the COVID-19 on the personal finances of the households, the researchers and analysts to CIRANO, of the Chair of research on economic issues of intergenerational and of the Institute on the retirement and savings of HEC Montréal have conducted an online survey with a random sample, but non-probabilistic 3009 quebec respondents aged 25 to 64 years of age. The survey was conducted between 8 and 20 may. A first overview is published this Saturday.

It should be noted that 29.5% of households have undergone a change of employment status for at least one spouse because of the COVID-19. In addition, 32% of men and women have claimed to have worked less, to a decline in hours worked 26.7 % and 29.5 %, respectively. Overall, 55.5% of the households reported to have experienced a decrease in employment income in April, a decrease of approximately 22.2 per cent, while on the expenditure side, those of 33.6 % of households were in April, lower than the average of 2019, for a decline of 23 %. For all households, the total income declined by an average of 8.4% and expenses by 7.5 %.

To note that 15.3% of the respondents have resorted to Providing canadian emergency at the time the survey was conducted. And that 18.2% of households have defaulted or deferred payment of rent or a payment on a mortgage, loan or credit card because of the COVID-19.

Inequalities in the face of the crisis

The authors conclude that overall, despite the importance of the shock on the labour market, ” the income and expenditure of all households have comparatively less decreased in April 2020, which suggests that they have ways to smooth out their spending, or that the full effects of the shock could be to come “. To add however, that there are “a large group of households for which times are most difficult and who were able to be helped by the support measures” of the government.

These inequalities in the face of the crisis are all the more felt that the most affected sectors, such as catering, hospitality and the retail trade, contain a large number of employees at low wages, in precarious status, with limited benefits, no union protection and with few possibilities of telework. And if we go back to the Statistics Canada data on employment of April, we observe that young people aged 15 to 24 years, were not retained in the survey, suffered a important backlash with an unemployment rate of 27 %.

Since February, job losses were more pronounced in firms with fewer than 20 employees (-31 %) than in those of 100 or more employees (13 %). Similarly, while job losses are slightly below the 18 % for all paid employees, they amounted to 23 % for recent immigrants, 30% for temporary employees and 38% for those who earned less than 16 $ per hour, could be read in The Duty.

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