Greater Sudbury’s unemployment rate jumped to 9.5 per cent in May, using a three-month moving average, the highest it has been since October 2010 when it was at 9.6 per cent, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
About 7,000 Sudburians were unemployed in May, up from 5,800 in April
About 76,000 Sudburians were employed last month, down from 79,400 in April.
Beginning in mid-March, a number of travel restrictions, business closures and physical distancing measures were put in place in Canada in response to COVID-19. These actions, taken by various levels of government to protect public health, amounted to an intentional shutdown of the economy.
From February to April, 5.5 million Canadian workers were affected by the shutdown. This included a drop in employment of three million and a COVID-19-related increase in absences from work of 2.5 million, said Statistics Canada.
Canada’s unemployment rate reached a new record high in May at 13.7 per cent, up 0.7 per cent from the month before, Statistics Canada said in its Labour Force Survey.
In February, prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent. It increased to 7.8 per cent in March and 13.0 per cent in April.
From February to April, the total number of unemployed Canadians more than doubled with 5.5 million Canadian workers affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. This surge was driven by temporary layoffs, with the vast majority of the newly unemployed expecting to return to their previous job within six months and not necessarily actively looking for another job.
That being said, unemployment grew more slowly in May than in the previous two months and there was little change in the number of people on temporary layoff. Growth in unemployment was driven instead by an increase in job seekers, especially re-entrants to the labour force who had worked within the past year.
At the same time, Canada’s employment rate ticked upward by 1.8 per cent (290,000) in May, while the number of people who worked less than half their usual hours dropped by 8.6 per cent (292,000).
Combined, these changes in the labour market represented a recovery of 10.6 per cent of the COVID-19-related employment losses and absences recorded in the previous two months.
Ontario’s unemployment rate jumped 2.3 per cent in May to 13.6 per cent. Ontario was the only province where employment continued to fall in May as restrictions on economic activity remained in place during the LFS reference week of May 10 to May 16, said Statistics Canada.
While employment declined in Ontario in May, down one per cent to 6,399,000, it did so at a much slower pace than in March and April, said Statistics Canada in its LFS.
All of the employment decline in May was in the services-producing sector, losing 80,000 jobs. At the same time, employment rose by 15,000 in the goods-producing sector, driven by the manufacturing industry.
Over the coming months, it is expected that jurisdictions across Canada will continue to re-evaluate and adjust restrictions on economic activity. In turn, labour market conditions are likely to evolve at an uncertain pace and in unknown directions.
For some Canadians, recovery from the COVID-19 economic shutdown will mean continuing to work from home, while for others it will mean returning to a traditional workplace, possibly with adaptations to reduce health risks.
For others, recovery will involve looking for new work, either in their former industry or occupation or in a new line of work.