More Canadians back to work in August, but job market recovery is slowing

WatchThe number of unemployed Canadians is decreasing. In August more and more people are finding jobs, recovering positions that were lost in the COVID-19 shutdowns in the spring. But as Kori Sidaway explains, we're still far from a full recovery.

In any other month, this kind of job growth would be huge: almost a quarter of a million Canadians headed back to work in August.

Instead, it’s a sign that Canada’s job market recovery is slowing.

READ MORE: Total employment stands at 94% of pre-pandemic levels, says BC Gov’t

“This is the fourth month we’ve seen a bit of a rise in the number of people working, which is good,” said Bruce Williams, CEO of Greater Victoria’s Chamber of Commerce.

“Its a sign that we’re slowly on the road to recovery, but still reflects the great big hole in the economy with tourism and hospitality not really returning to anything near normal levels right now.”

Back in June, Canada added back nearly 1 million jobs. In July, 400,000 were added. All in all, Canada has gained back nearly two million jobs. But that’s still more than a million short of what was lost in the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in B.C.’s capital, the unemployment rate for August was 10.3 per cent, an improvement to July’s 11.1 per cent.

“It’s nice to see the numbers dip around that 10 per cent but that’s still a massive unemployment number compared to the four to six per cent that I would think is at least a healthy unemployment number,” said Michael Lane, with Work BC.

But there are some encouraging signs of strength. On the South Island, seasonal agriculture is coming back. Manufacturing, construction, and retail are slowly getting back up as well.

But part-time positions are not growing as fast.

“We are primarily seeing full-time jobs being open for hiring, which is great, except that there is a pretty significant population in Victoria that relies on that entry-level part-time jobs and those are the folks who are going to struggle over the next several months,” added Lane.

It’s even direr for previous part-timers in the hospitality industry, as  Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) support from the federal government comes to a close.

“It’s good to see the unemployment rate dropping and dropping, but we are anticipating a really really significant surge in people coming to Work BC especially as their CERB payments end, and their Employment Insurance (EI) claims are smaller than what they were receiving on CERB, and the industries that they traditionally worked in such as hotel and restaurant, aren’t there for them,” said Lane.

Many are expecting the next phase of economic recovery to be even slower, as many part-time workers start to look for retraining in other industries.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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