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State of the Labour Market

September Labour Force Survey: A Strong Report, but Outlook Is Cloudy

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Recent increases in COVID-19 cases could stall the recovery.

There was a surprise acceleration for Canadian employment, as conditions took another step toward normalcy in September. Good signs included gains across most sectors, stronger growth in full-time over part-time jobs, and a decline in people out of work on permanent layoff. Overall, three-quarters of net job losses from earlier in the pandemic have now been recouped. Given the scale of the initial plunge, that’s pretty impressive progress over five months. Yet conditions still remain far from normal, judging by the standards of a typical recession. 

The September numbers reflect conditions that prevailed midway through the month. However, with the pandemic picking up steam, and new restrictions coming into force, the labour market faces a new test looking ahead. Job postings on Indeed continued to rebound though the end of September, although momentum was weaker in pandemic-exposed sectors like food service, and hospitality. The extent that the recent upswing in COVID-19 cases slows the job market recovery will depend both on developments in these customer-facing industries, but also whether impacts are felt elsewhere.