The Canadian labour market remained on the right track through early December. Job growth cooled following a blow-out November, but remained at a firm pace, with especially strong gains in full-time work. It was also encouraging to see another solid drop in long-term unemployment. Long-term joblessness remains elevated, but is declining, a key condition for a true labour market recovery.
Perhaps the bigger story in today’s numbers, though, is what wasn’t captured: the effects of the latest upswing in the pandemic. The December Labour Force Survey captured conditions during the week of the 5 to 11th, before the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases, meaning we’ll have to wait for the January numbers to get a sense of its employment impact. These will include the direct effects of Canadians increasingly staying at home, as well as new public health restrictions, but also the impacts of school closures and work absences from those who’ve caught the virus.
The near-term situation will still be a challenge, especially for impacted workers at a time when government support is less generous than earlier in the crisis. The Canadian labour market throughout 2021 was able to bounce back well from the pandemic’s ups and downs. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until we’re on the other side of this current wave to regain momentum.