The Canadian labour market took surprisingly large strides on its road to recovery according to February and March Labour Force Surveys. However, where things stand in April is a whole other question. A surge in COVID-19 cases since mid-March and new restrictions introduced thereafter are likely to halt progress in several pandemic-exposed sectors that were making gains. 

Similar to the experience during the second wave, how badly the overall labour market is hit by the third wave will hinge on the extent of losses in sectors like accommodation and food service, as well as retail, and the degree to which they’re potentially offset by progress elsewhere in the economy. The results in December and January were net employment losses of 53,000 and 213,000, respectively.

A key difference this time however, is that the ongoing vaccine rollout provides a light at the end of the tunnel. Employers directly impacted by the third wave will have to consider a potentially brighter summer outlook in their near-term staffing plans. In addition, job postings on Indeed Canada are now well above their pre-pandemic leve, suggesting more opportunities for those out of work. Nonetheless, getting back to “normal” will require COVID-19 cases staying low, even as businesses fully re-open. We’re not there yet.