After a solid rebound between April and November, the pandemic’s second-wave has sent the Canadian labour market in reverse. While far less dramatic than last spring, the January employment drop was still the third-worst monthly change on record. Declines continued in “early-shutdown” services like accommodation and food service and were joined by layoffs in retail and wholesale trade. Given the latter’s substantial size, any changes in this sector become quickly evident in the headline numbers. 

The question for February is whether the brunt of the second wave’s job market impacts are finally behind us. Canada-wide COVID-19 cases declined between January and February Labour Force Survey reference weeks, while public health restrictions eased somewhat in certain regions. Depending on the timing, re-opening of businesses could help recover some lost ground.

Looking at the big picture, getting the job market firmly back on the right track hinges on ending the pandemic and returning daily life to some form of normality. It looks like many businesses are gearing up for this prospect: job postings Indeed Canada are showing strong momentum, finally surpassing their pre-pandemic level in mid-February.