Canada’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.2% In February

Coinciding with the ongoing vaccine rollout and easing of restrictions, Canada’s labour market added 259,000 jobs in February, nearly erasing all losses accumulated over the past two months.

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate declined by 1.2%, settling at 8.2% last month— the lowest rate since March 2020. Likewise, the labour underutilization rate, which accounts for the proportion of people who are either unemployed, want a job but have not looked for one, or are employed but working less than half of their usual hours, fell by 1.8% to 16.6%— the lowest since February of last year.

Most of the employment gains were concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, after restrictions that were imposed at the end of the year were relaxed in February. Employment levels increased across several other major provinces as well, including British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, but declined by the most in Newfoundland and Labrador. The remainder of the provinces reported little change in February.

As public health measures began to ease in the beginning of the year, employment levels rebounded across several key sectors of Canada’s economy. The number of individuals working in the retail trade sector rose by 122,000 last month, putting employment levels 5.4% below pre-pandemic levels. Similarly, employment in the accommodation and food services sector increased by 65,000, driven primarily by Alberta and Ontario, where some public health restrictions were lifted, including the reopening of in-person dining. However, despite the gains, this sector continues to remain the furthest from reaching its pre-pandemic levels.

Employment in educational services recorded the largest increase in February, rising 3.7% above pre-pandemic levels. Although employment remained little changed in February for professional, technical, and scientific services, the number of Canadians working in this sector has also exceeded year-ago levels.

Statistics Canada also found that a large portion of February’s job increases were concentrated across lower-paying jobs, suggesting the rebound in public-facing industries is on the rise. Prior to the pandemic, Statistics Canada found that about one-quarter of all Canadian employees earned a wage of $17.50 or less, while one-quarter earned over $36 per hour. Last month, the number of people making under $17.50 increased by 203,000, partially offsetting the decline of 321,000 recorded in the month prior.

In total, Statistics Canada calculates there were 791,000 (-19.7%) fewer employees in the lower wage bracket in February compared to the same time a year prior. In comparison, there were 410,000 (+10.3%) more workers earning more than $36 per hour last month compared to February 2020 levels.

Information for this briefing was found via Statistics Canada. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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