December Labour Force Survey: Pandemic’s Drag Intensifies
December reversed November’s gains.
The pandemic’s second wave hit the job market in December. Losses in areas of the economy most vulnerable to the virus and resulting restrictions, like accommodation and food services, continued to gain steam, while momentum elsewhere generally softened. The conditions also deteriorated for self-employed workers, who accounted for nearly all of the net job losses in the month.
The labour market recovery had been walking a tightrope during the fall, but ultimately succumbed to the pressure of the pandemic. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that things could’ve been worse. December’s drop was nowhere near the scale of the declines we saw last spring, and some areas of the economy, like manufacturing and professional services, still achieved solid gains.
However, the data is already a bit far in the rear-view mirror. The crisis has intensified since early December, especially in central Canada, and tighter restrictions could be coming. Overall employer hiring appetite on Indeed held up fairly well through the end of the year, highlighting that many employers are looking ahead to brighter prospects later this year. Nonetheless, it’s clear once again that the job market can’t recover amid a raging pandemic.
Brendon Bernard is an Economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, focusing on the Canadian labour market. His research interests include analyzing how detailed trends in the job market fit in with broader developments in the Canadian economy. Brendon was previously an economist with Department of Finance Canada, where he focused on analyzing Canadian financial sector policy and the U.S. economy. He holds a Master’s in Economics from the Vancouver School of Economics at University of British Columbia, as well as a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Queen’s University.