Canadian economy sheds nearly two million jobs in April, increasing national unemployment rate to 13 percent

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      COVID-19 has not only killed more than 4,400 Canadians, it's also had a devastating impact on the labour force.

      This morning, Statistics Canada reported that nearly two million jobs were lost in April. Of those, 74 percent were full-time.

      It's driven up the national unemployment rate to 13 percent—the highest since December 1982, when the jobless rate reached 13.1 percent.

      The devastating April numbers came after more than a million jobs, mostly part-time, were lost across Canada in March.

      "The April unemployment rate would be 17.8%, when adjusted to reflect those who were not counted as unemployed for reasons specific to the COVID-19 economic shutdown," Statistics Canada reported.

      "During the week of April 12, 1.1 million people were not in the labour force but had worked recently (in March or April) and wanted to work," the agency reported. "They were not counted as unemployed but were counted as not in the labour force because they did not look for work, presumably due to ongoing business closures and very limited opportunities to find new work."

      According to Statistics Canada, 97 percent of the newly unemployed were on temporary layoffs, "indicating that they expected to return to their former employer as the shutdown is relaxed".

      "While women accounted for a disproportionate share of job losses in March, declines in April were larger among men, resulting in a narrowing of the gender gap in cumulative employment losses," Statistics Canada stated. "Among the total population aged 15 and older, employment losses from February to April totalled 1,537,000 (-16.9%) for women and 1,468,000 (-14.6%) for men."

      The Aritzia store is one of many along Vancouver's Robson Street that were boarded up in March.
      Craig Takeuchi

      Metropolitan regions hardest hit

      The economic contraction has been most severe in cities, with Montreal losing 404,000 jobs, or 18 percent, since February. The city's unemployment rate is 18.2 percent, up 13.4 percent in two months.

      Vancouver lost 17.4 percent of its employment, shedding 256,000 jobs since February. Vancouver's unemployment rate is 10.8 percent, up from 4.6 percent in February.

      In Toronto, 539,000 jobs have disappeared, a drop of 15.2 percent since February. Its unemployment rate is 11.1 percent, up 5.6 percent from two months ago.

      Quebec is the province with the highest unemployment rate, 17 percent in April, up from 8.1 percent in March. It's also been the hardest hit by COVID-19.

      B.C.'s unemployment rate jumped from 7.2 percent in March to 11.5 percent in April as more than 250,000 jobs were lost. Over the same period, Ontario's jobless rate rose from 7.6 percent to 11.3 percent.

      "In both the services-producing and the goods-producing sectors, the employment decreases observed in the two months since February were proportionally larger than the losses observed during each of the three significant labour market downturns since 1980," Statistics Canada stated.

      Statistics Canada

      An additional 3.3 million Canadians worked from home in April. And 21.1 percent of Canadians said they lived in a household that was having trouble meeting immediate financial obligations.

      Young people saw the most rapid declines in employment, with 873,000 jobs lost from February to April—34.2 percent of all jobs for those aged 15 to 24. The student unemployment rate for those from 15 to 24 has shot up to 31.7 percent (not adjusted for seasonality).

      Very recent immigrants (five years or less in Canada) have also been particularly hard hit, experiencing a 23.2 percent reduction in employment since February compared to 14 percent among those born in Canada.

      "This is partly because this group is more likely than people born in Canada to work in industries which have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown, such as accommodation and food services, and less likely to work in less severely-impacted industries, such as public administration," Statistics Canada stated.