Canadian employment numbers rose by 290,000 in May, or a 1.8 per cent increase on the previous month, as provinces started to reopen their economies, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
The number of people who reported working less than half their usual hours in May dropped by 292,000 or 8.6 per cent. Combined, the agency said the figures represented a 10.6 per cent recovery of the coronavirus-related employment losses recorded in the past two months.
Quebec accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the month’s employment gains, at 231,000. Ontario was the only province to record continued falling unemployment, with an additional 65,000 job losses during the month.
Of the job gains from April to May, 219,000 or 75 per cent were in full-time work. Compared to February, full-time employment was down 11.1 per cent in May, while part-time work was down by 27.6 per cent.
However, the unemployment rate hit 13.7 per cent in May, which was the highest recorded rate since 1976, when comparable data became available. In February, the unemployment rate sat at 5.6 per cent, increasing to 7.8 per cent in March and 13 per cent in April.
The total number of unemployed Canadians more than doubled from February to April, driven by temporary layoffs. According to Statistics Canada, the vast majority of the newly unemployed said they expected to return to their previous jobs within six months and weren’t actively looking for another job.
In May, some Canadians who were unable to work from home were able to return to work — either to their previous workplaces or in new jobs — as restrictions eased and workplaces began making adaptations. Eight million Canadians who worked at least half their usual hours worked outside of their home last month, up from 7.2 million in April. The number of Canadians who worked at least half their usual hours and worked from home was virtually unchanged, at 4.9 million.
May saw increases in employment and hours worked across a range of industries, including those where working from home is less practical, such as accommodation, food services and wholesale and retail trade.
The services-producing sector, which was hit first and hardest by economic restrictions, saw a one per cent increase in employment, or 125,000 jobs, in May. In comparison, employment rebounded more strongly in goods-producing sectors such as construction and manufacturing that didn’t feel the effects of the restrictions until later May and April. In May, goods-producing sectors saw an employment increase of five per cent or 165,000 jobs.
Total hours worked across all industries grew by 6.3 per cent and the average hours worked in Canada rose to 29.5 per week, up slightly from 28.2 in April ,but still down substantially from the average 33 hours per week in February.