Atlantic Canada’s independent voice on economic issues

Labour Market - April 2020

Atlantic Labour Market Impacts of COVID-19
based on Labour Force Survey, April 2020

Today’s job numbers for April show a loss of 171,000 Atlantic jobs since February. While employment has declined 15%, hours worked are down 26%. Meanwhile the labour force has shrunk and unemployment risen.

  • Atlantic Canada’s employment fell by 171,000 since February including a historic drop of 123,000 in April.  The region lost more than 15% of jobs over the last two months. This was marginally smaller than the 16% decline nationally over the same period.
  • The decline in hours worked in Atlantic Canada was larger than the drop in employment, down 26% between February and April, compared with a 28% decline nationally. 
  • A majority of Atlantic job losses (119,000) were in full-time employment.  However, the 27% decline in part-time employment was double the 13% drop in full-time jobs.
  • Atlantic youth (ages 15-24) were the hardest hit with over the last two months with employment down 30%. One in four (24%) are now unemployed, up from 13% in February.
  • Of the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have been hit harder with a 16% decline in employment, compared with 14% in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
  • The regional unemployment rate rose from 8.4% in February to 13% in April 2020, the highest level since 1998.  The unemployment rate in Atlantic Canada is currently the same as the national rate.
  • However, the overall labour underutilization rate in Atlantic Canada has risen to 39% in April, up from 17% in February, and slightly higher than the 37% rate nationally. This includes workers who are unemployed, those who are still employed but lost all or the majority of their usual work hours, and those who are not in the labour force but want a job and did not look for one. 
  • On a positive note, 40% of those who lost their jobs in Atlantic Canada over the last two months are considered temporary layoffs or furloughs.  This means, these jobs could be brought back quickly as conditions improve.
  • By industry, the largest job losses in Atlantic employment between February and April were in wholesale/retail trade (40,000) and accommodation and food services (37,000).  Job losses accelerated for many sectors in April including construction, manufacturing and health care. The biggest reduction in hours worked was in accommodation and food services.







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