“There are still over 500,000 people who were working in the month of February who are not currently working. But, on the whole, these are good figures that reflect the déconfinement that is underway”, commented the minister of Finance of Québec, Eric Girard, on Friday.
June 5, 2020 9h13
Updated at 17h16
Unemployment: historic summit in Canada, back in Quebec
The canadian Press
OTTAWA — The canadian economy has recovered 289 600 jobs in may, while businesses were able to reopen thanks to the easing of the public health measures put in place to fight against the pandemic.
In spite of everything, the unemployment rate stood at 13.7 %, its highest level in more than four decades of comparable data, pointed out Friday, Statistics Canada.
The increase in the unemployment rate, which has exceeded the previous peak of 13.1 % in December 1982, was explained by the fact that more and more people have started to look for work.
The monthly survey of the active population showed that men were more likely to return to a job than women in may, which has widened the gap between men and women in matters of employment losses attributable to the COVID-19. In addition, the pandemic has continued to affect disproportionately employed in lower-paid, noted the agency.
The increase in the number of jobs – which mimicked a similar trend in the United States – came after three million jobs were lost in march and April. About 2.5 million workers, have also seen their hours reduced during those two months.
According to Statistics Canada, the number of people who have worked less than half of their usual hours decreased by 292 000 in may.
With this improvement, and the increase in the number of jobs, the federal agency says the country has recovered from 10.6% of the job losses and absences related to the pandemic COVID-19.
“The increase in the overall unemployment rate to 13.7 %, the highest ever recorded, should not be regarded as a sign of underlying weakness, because it is simply more Canadians without a job, stating that they are now looking for work,” said in a note to the economist, Royce Mendes, CIBC Bank.
“The results are surprisingly positive about the employment picture more optimistic in the beginning of the recovery, but the road ahead is still long.”
Decline in the unemployment rate in Quebec
In Quebec, the unemployment rate fell 3.3 percentage points last month to reach 13.7 %.
According to Statistics Canada, employment in Québec increased 6.5 %, or 231 000 jobs from April to may. Moreover, this growth has been the highest among the provinces and it represented a recovery of approximately 30 % decreases the cumulative recorded in march and April.
In addition, the number of persons laid off temporarily in Québec decreased.
With the exception of Nova Scotia, the other two Maritime provinces have begun to loosen the restrictions related to the COVID-19 at the beginning of may. The number of people in employment increased by 17 000 in New Brunswick, 8600, Nova Scotia, and from the 2600 to the Île-du-Prince-Édouard.
In New Brunswick, the unemployment rate dipped slightly from April to may, from 13.2 % to 12.8 %. On the other hand, it has increased elsewhere in the Maritimes, and has increased from 12 % to 13.6 % in Nova Scotia and from 10.8 % to 13.9 % in the Île-du-Prince-Édouard.
The Western provinces posted gains with the exception of Saskatchewan, which has experienced little overall change in employment, according to Statistics Canada.
The losses continued in Ontario, but at a slower pace than in march and April. The provincial unemployment rate rose to 13.6 % in may, compared to 11.3 % in April.
The total number of unemployed canadians has doubled from February to April, a growth attributable to temporary lay-offs. The great majority of the workers expected that this situation continues for less than six months.
At the same time, the number of people wishing to work but not actively seeking employment, has increased, probably because the closure of the economy has limited employment opportunities.
People who are not actively seeking a job are not counted as unemployed in the data.
The unemployment rate for the month of may would have been 19.6 % if the report were counted among the unemployed those who have stopped looking for work – the number of which is largely unchanged since April.
The least well paid among the most affected
The economist Brian DePratto of TD Bank, has pointed out that nearly 90 % of those who have lost their work in march and April were always the key.
Workers on low pay have been among the first and hardest hit during the containment, primarily because they worked in sectors such as retail, restaurants or hotels, which were closed at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to Statistics Canada, these workers have recovered a little more than a tenth of the losses they suffered in march and April. But it is a group that continues to count a higher proportion of persons working less than half of their usual hours.
The number of new jobs obtained by men in may has exceeded the one obtained by the women, who had experienced substantial job losses at the beginning of the pandemic. Women with children under six years of age have also registered employment gains more slowly than those with older children.
The rebounds were also low for students and very recent immigrants, or those who are in the country for five years or less.
“Women workers, workers with low earnings and workers are racialized continue to struggle disproportionately”, said the president of the Canadian labour Congress, Hassan Yussuff.
“While women and young people returning to the labour market, the job offers continue to be rare.”