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April Labour Force Survey: An Expected Setback


Pandemic-exposed sectors plunge.

Canadian employment continues to follow the path of the pandemic. April was a tough month as expected for the Canadian job market, as soaring COVD-19 cases and resulting restrictions sent employment downward after two solid months of growth. The drop didn’t fully reverse March’s job gain, but was nonetheless substantial. Total hours worked saw an even sharper decline, partly reflecting a large drop among self-employed workers.   

Job losses were particularly concentrated in pandemic-exposed industries like accommodation and food service, retail, and information, culture, and recreation. Meanwhile, other areas like professional and technical services, finance and real estate, and public administration made solid progress. 

The key ingredient for a sustained recovery has always been the ability for businesses to fully reopen while the pandemic remains firmly in retreat. That doesn’t bode well for the immediate situation, but the vaccine rollout offers tangible hope. Hiring appetite outside of the most pandemic exposed sectors looks strong, with job postings on Indeed well above their pre-pandemic levels. The true test will hinge on whether it’s safe for restrictions to ease this summer, especially as youth look for seasonal work typically found in many of the struggling sectors.