Atlantic Canada’s independent voice on economic issues

Labour Market - March 2020

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

The first official labour market data shows significant impacts of COVID-19 in Atlantic Canada with job losses and reduced hours while other individuals may still be on payroll but not able to work as their workplace is shut down. The reference week (March 15 – 21) occurred as various measures to restrict travel and social interactions were being put in place. As a result, the full picture may not be apparent until April data are available, although the proposed federal government wage subsidy will lead to some laid off individuals being hired back.

  • Atlantic Canada’s employment fell by 48,000 in March, losing more than 4% of jobs held in February. This was smaller than the 5.3% decline nationally.
  • 63% of Atlantic job losses (30,000) were in part-time employment, while 37% (18,000) were full-time.
  • Atlantic youth (ages 15-24) were the hardest hit with over 20,000 jobs lost last month and an unemployment rate rising to 16%. Most of the youth jobs lost were part-time (16,300).
  • Women were also disproportionately affected, counting for 61% of Atlantic job losses in March.
  • Of the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia has been hit the hardest, accounting for over half of the region's job losses, with a loss of 25,000 jobs (5.3% of total employment).
  • The regional unemployment rate rose from 8.4% in February to 9.5% in March 2020.
  • By industry, the largest decreases in Atlantic employment were in Accommodation and Food Services (16,300), Wholesale/Retail Trade (11,300) and Educational Services (6,000).
  • Atlantic hours worked fell much more than employment, plummeting by 17% in March 2020 from February. Most industries had declines of 10% or more in hours worked. The biggest reductions were in education (52%) and accommodation and food services (39%). Part-time workers had a bigger reduction in hours (35%) than full-time workers (16%).







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