March 15, 2021, by Dr. Sherry Cooper
Statistics Canada released the February 2021 Labour Force Survey showing much stronger-than-expected job growth.
Employment rose by 259,200 (1.4%) in February, after falling by 266,000 in the prior two months, nearly reversing the effects of the second pandemic wave. The jobless rate fell a whopping 1.2 percentage points to 8.2%, the lowest rate since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
February marked one year of unprecedented pandemic-related changes in the Canadian labour market. Compared with 12 months earlier, there were 599,000 (-3.1%) fewer people employed in February, and 406,000 (+50.0%) more people working less than half of their usual hours.
The number of workers affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown peaked at 5.5 million in April 2020, including a drop in employment of 3 million and an increase in COVID-related absences from work of 2.5 million. Since the pandemic began one year ago, there remain over 1 million Canadians who have suffered a loss of employment income.
The March employment report may take on even greater importance for the Bank of Canada since it will be the last set of jobs data before the central bank’s April policy decision. Accelerating vaccinations after a slow start would keep the hiring momentum going.
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