The July Labour Force Survey (LFS) results reflect labour market conditions as of the week of July 12 to 18, four months after the beginning of the economic shutdown resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic. By then, businesses and workplaces across Canada were continuing to re-open, building on the resumption of economic activities that began in May and continued in June. Although public health restrictions had been substantially eased in most parts of the country—with the exception of some regions of Ontario, including Toronto—some measures remained in place, including physical distancing requirements and restrictions on large gatherings.

Employment rose by 419,000 (+2.4%) in July, compared with 953,000 (+5.8%) in June. Combined with gains of 290,000 in May, this brought employment to within 1.3 million (-7.0%) of its pre-COVID February level. Most of the employment gains in July were in part-time work, which increased by 345,000 (+11.3%), compared with a much smaller increase of 73,000 (+0.5%) in full-time work.

Among those who were employed and not absent from work, the number working from home dropped by 400,000, compared with an increase of 300,000 in the number working at locations other than home. Despite this decline, the number of Canadians who worked from home in July (4.6 million) remained significantly higher than the number who usually do so (1.6 million).

The unemployment rate was 10.9% in July, falling 1.4 percentage points for the second consecutive month and down from a record high of 13.7% in May. The unemployment rate was 5.6% in February. While the unemployment rate fell among all major age-sex groups in July, it was higher for men (11.3%) than for women (10.4%). The number of unemployed people fell for the second consecutive month in July, down 269,000 (-11.0%). Despite this decrease, almost 2.2 million Canadians were unemployed in July, nearly twice as many (+92.6%) as in February (1.1 million).

New information on labour market conditions for diverse groups of Canadians

To address gaps in the understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on population groups designated as visible minorities, two enhancements were made to the LFS in July. First, for respondents interviewed in July and in the future, a new question was added asking respondents aged 15 to 69 to report the population groups to which they belong. Second, for all respondents, including those interviewed before July, Statistics Canada developed an experimental method to integrate data from other sources so that population group characteristics could be added to the information collected through direct interviews prior to July. 

The national unemployment rate disguises significant variation across population groups. When unadjusted for seasonality, the national unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 69 was 11.3% in July. Several groups had rates of joblessness significantly above this average, including South Asian (17.8%), Arab (17.3%), and Black (16.8%) Canadians. Among South Asian Canadians, women (20.4%) had a significantly higher unemployment rate than men (15.4%). Black women also had a higher unemployment rate than Black men (18.6% vs 15.1%). For several population groups—including West Asian, Korean and Japanese Canadians—it was not possible to calculate separate unemployment rates with the current LFS sample size. Among those who were not a member of a population group designated as a visible minority and who did not identify as Aboriginal, the unemployment rate was 9.3% in July (not adjusted for seasonality).

Employment recovery in retail trade now on par with the all-industry average

The number of people employed in retail trade grew by 91,000 (+4.6%) in July, bringing employment to 92.7% of its February level. Employment in retail was among the industries hardest hit by the initial COVID-19 workplace restrictions, with employment in April falling to 77.2% of its February level. Due to the relatively high proportion of retail trade jobs requiring close physical proximity with others, easing of COVID-19 restrictions was accompanied by important workplace adaptations and other protective measures. In July, 90.9% of workers reported that they or their employer had reorganized the workplace or work practices due to COVID-19.

Click here to view the full survey results. 

Source: Statistics Canada