Atlantic Canada’s independent voice on economic issues

Labour Market - May 2020

Atlantic Labour Market Shows Signs of Life in May
based on Labour Force Survey, May 2020

The May job report released today shows an increase of 38,000 Atlantic jobs since April. This is an important sign that the worst of the job losses are behind us and that recovery has begun. This data is from the week of May 10-16 when all Atlantic provinces except Nova Scotia were starting to open back up. Employment was up 4% in May, and hours worked increased by 18% from April levels.

  • Atlantic Canada lost more than 171,000 jobs between February and April. The increase in jobs in May accounted for 22% of the jobs lost in the previous months. This is an important first step in the recovery but there is a long way to go. 
  • Employment increased in all four Atlantic provinces in May led by New Brunswick (+17,000) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+10,000). The 4% increase in jobs in Atlantic Canada was double the increase nationally. 
  • The regional unemployment rate increased to 13.9% in May from 13.1% in April as more people (54,000) returned to the labour force looking for work. The national unemployment rate is 13.7%.
  • Full-time jobs (22,000) accounted for more of the employment gains, but the growth rate in part-time jobs was stronger.  
  • Males outpaced females in the early stages of the rebound accounting for 55% of the increase in jobs in Atlantic Canada.  The increase in male jobs were mostly full-time positions – 73%. Females were largely part-time – 60%.
  • The labour underutilization rate* in Atlantic Canada fell to 36% in May from 37% in April, but it is still well above the 16% in February. The national rate was at 35% in May.
  • A majority of the increase in employment is in low wage sectors that were hit hard by the shutdown. The largest job gains in Atlantic employment between April and May were in retail (15,400) and Accommodation and Food (6,200). 
  • The largest gains in May hours worked were in forestry, fishing, oil/gas (+94%), accommodations (+51%), and construction (+37%).

*The labour underutilization rate 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.    









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