Labour Force Survey (LFS) results for June reflect labour market conditions as of the week of June 14 to June 20. This gradual easing of restrictions and the re-opening of the economy continued to present both opportunities and challenges for employers and workers. Employers continued to adapt workplaces to ensure the health and safety of workers, customers and the public. Some workers returned to a previous employer while others looked for new work. For many Canadians, adapting to new ways of working included making new child care arrangements.

Employment continues to rebound as reopening of economy continues

Employment rose by nearly one million in June (+953,000; +5.8%), with gains split between full-time work (+488,000 or +3.5%) and part-time work (+465,000 or +17.9%). With these two consecutive increases, employment in June was 1.8 million (-9.2%) lower than in February.

Initial recovery in employment has been sharper than in previous economic downturns. In just two months, employment fell to 15.7% below pre-COVID February levels. By comparison, the 1981/1982 recession resulted in a total employment decline of 5.4% (-612,000) over approximately 17 months.

Highlights from the survey

  • In all age groups, men are closer to pre-shutdown employment levels than women.
  • The unemployment rate dropped to 12.3% in June however, the unemployment rate remains much higher than the 5.6% it was in February.
  • The number of people on temporary layoff fell by 29.1% (-347,000) in June, driven by a decline among core-aged workers aged 25-54. Following this decline, one-third of 34.4% of the unemployed were on temporary layoff, while 65.6% were searching for work in June.
  • In June, 26.9% of the potential labour force was fully or partially underutilized, down from 34.3% in May 34.3%, but substantially higher than pre-pandemic levels, the rate decline the most for those in the youth category.
  • Among those who were employed and worked at least half of their usual hours, working at locations other than home increased by 2 million in June, while the number of Canadians working from home fell by 400,000.
  • Employment rose by 164,000 in accommodation and food services and by 184,000 in retail trade; however both industries are well below February levels. Smaller firms  in these industries have been disproportionately impacted by the economic shutdown.
  • In several services-producing industries—such as wholesale trade, public administration, and finance, insurance, real estate and rental and leasing—fewer than 40% of jobs involve close proximity with others. In many of these industries, employment in June was at or near pre-COVID-shutdown levels as many of these jobs shifted to working from home.
  • In the manufacturing industry, employment gains in May and June totalled 160,000, bringing employment to 91.9% of its February level.
  • Youth employment records strong gains (15.4% in June), but remains far below pre-COVID levels this includes students who continue to face challenges as well.
  • In June, employment grew more strongly among lower-wage workers however, the recovery rate among low-wage workers (78.8% of the February level) was noticeably lower than the rate among other employees (96.7%) (not adjusted for seasonality).
  • Employment among low wage workers, particularly women, remains below pre-COVID levels; In June, employment levels among female workers in a low-wage job had reached 74.8% of their February levels, versus 84.7% for their male counterparts (not adjusted for seasonality).
  • Among parents, employment recovery slowest for mothers with school-aged children; data shows that while more parents were returning to employment after daycare services began to reopen, more fathers had returned to work than mothers.
  • A greater proportion of core-aged women with children under 18 (14.3%) worked less than half their usual hours compared with their male counterparts (8.7%) in June.
  • In June, the number of people living in couples where neither partner was employed fell for a second consecutive month (-4.6%), while the number of people living in couples in which only one partner was employed also decreased (-7.0%) (not adjusted for seasonality). 
  • In June, 28.3% of Canadians aged 15 to 69 reported receiving some kind of federal income assistance payment since March 15. The share was higher among those living in households reporting difficulty meeting financial needs (40.7%) compared with those in households who reported it was easy to meet financial needs (21.7%).
  • In June, the employment rate for Aboriginal people living off-reserve was 4.4 percentage points below the February rate, compared with 3.9 percentage points for the non-Aboriginal population.

Looking ahead

The labour market shock resulting from the COVID-19 economic shutdown has had an unequal impact on different groups of Canadians. In March and April, a disproportionate share of job loss was felt by youth, women and low-paid workers. LFS results from May and June indicate that these same groups face a longer path to labour market recovery than others.

In July, the Labour Force Survey will begin asking respondents to report the ethno-cultural groups to which they belong. This will help to equip policymakers with the information needed to address social and economic inequalities, including the impact of COVID-19 across diverse populations. 

Source: Statistics Canada