Unemployment rate drops in June after record high in May

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The unemployment rate was 12.3 per cent in June, a drop of 1.4 percentage points from a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent Labour Force Survey.

While the unemployment rate for all major demographics groups fell in June, it remained slightly higher for women (12.7 per cent) than for men (12.1 per cent).

From February to April, 5.5 million Canadian workers were affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. This included a drop in employment of three million and a COVID-related increase in absences from work of 2.5 million.

By the week of June 14 to June 20, the number of workers affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown was 3.1 million, a reduction since April of 43 per cent.

Building on an initial recovery of 290,000 in May, employment rose by nearly one million in June (5.8 per cent), with gains split almost equally between full-time work and part-time work. 

Recovery in employment sharper than previous downturns

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in May and June, the initial recovery of employment—to within 9.2 per cent of pre-COVID levels—has been sharper than in previous downturns, when recovery to pre-downturn employment has taken from two to five years.

Approximately 2.5 million Canadians were unemployed in June, a decrease of 167,000 (-6.4 per cent) from May but more than double the February level (1.1 million).

Employment increased in all provinces

In Ontario, where the easing of COVID-19 restrictions began in late May and expanded on June 12, employment rose by 378,000 (+5.9 per cent) in June, the first increase since the COVID-19 economic shutdown. 

Quebec recorded employment gains of 248,000 (+6.5 per cent) in June, adding to similar gains (+231,000) in May and bringing employment to 92.2 per cent of its February level. 

The number of people employed in British Columbia rose by 118,000 (+5.4 per cent) in June, following an increase of 43,000 in May. 

In the Western provinces, employment increased in Saskatchewan (+30,000) for the first time since the COVID-19 economic shutdown and rose for the second consecutive month in both Alberta (+92,000) and Manitoba (+29,000).

In New Brunswick, the first province to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, employment increased by 22,000 in June. Combined with May gains, this brought employment in the province to 97.1 per cent of its pre-COVID February level, the most complete employment recovery of all provinces to date.

Employment increased for the second consecutive month in Nova Scotia (+29,000), Newfoundland and Labrador (+6,000) and Prince Edward Island (+1,700).

Compared with the first quarter of the year, employment In the Northwest Territories fell by an estimated 1,300 people in the quarter ending in June. The unemployment rate was little changed at 9.6 per cent, as fewer people participated in the labour market. 

In the second quarter of 2020, employment in Nunavut declined by 2,100 people compared with the first quarter. Over the same period, labour force participation also fell, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 15.3 per cent.

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