Canada’s economy added 378,000 new jobs in September, Statistics Canada says, almost all of which were full-time positions.
September’s job gains mean that the job market is now within 720,000 positions of where it was in February, before the advent of COVID-19 in Canada.
March and April saw a cumulative record of three million jobs lost in Canada, before the numbers started to bounce back in June. Each month from then on has been slightly lower than the previous, until last month, when hiring seems to have picked up again.
That surge means the economy has officially recovered more than three-quarters of the jobs its lost. For comparison purposes, the U.S. has only gained back a little more than half of the jobs it lost.
Most of the new jobs were full-time work. Only about 44,000 of them were part-time. The gains were also more than twice as many as economists had been expecting.
Every province added jobs — except Prince Edward Island, which lost 800 — but most came in the four most populous ones:
- Ontario added 167,000.
- Quebec added 76,000.
- British Columbia added 54,000.
- Alberta added 38,000.
September’s hiring was enough to push the jobless rate down to 9 per cent. For context, in February, Canada’s unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent, before COVID-19 walloped the economy, and pushed it up to a high of 13.7 per cent in May, the highest rate on record. It has fallen steadily in each of the four months since then.
The last time Canada’s economy was hit by anything remotely similar to the impact of COVID-19 was the recession of 2008 and 2009. That time, the jobless rate was 6.2 per cent going into it, before peaking at 8.7 per cent eight months later in June 2009.
It took nine years for the rate to get back to where it was before.
Back to school, back to work
The influx of students and teachers going back to school in September seems to have given the job market a boost.
The job market was buoyed not only by the 68,000 educational workers who got jobs during the month, but also because they allowed parents to do the same in their previous jobs.
The number of mothers who got paid work during the month rose by 0.9 per cent, while for fathers the figure was up by 1.5 per cent. Employment for parents now back above where it was in February.
“The big question is, how long can that last?” said TD Bank economist Sri Thanabalasingam.
“School reopenings have proved to be very tricky with the pandemic now entering the second wave, and the pressure is increasing for provinces to undertake tighter restrictions to control the spread of the virus,” Thanabalasingam said.
Indeed, working mothers are still having a harder time getting back to their usual level of paid work. The number of mothers working less than half their usual hours was 70 per cent higher last month than what it was in February, Thanabalasingam noted. For dads, that figure is only 23 per cent — meaning more than three quarters are still managing to work the same amount as they always did.
Still not normal
While the job market has recovered more than three-quarters of the jobs it lost to the pandemic, it’s still anything but normal.
About one-quarter of Canadians are still working from home. That’s 4.2 million people and more than twice the number who normally do.
And while the economy is adding jobs, there are still 1.8 million people in Canada officially categorized as unemployed, which means they want a job but can’t find one. And there are still 1.3 million workers affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown, which means they are employed but working less than they’d like to or normally do.