NWPB in the Media: Job numbers show Niagara still has long way to go to recover from pandemic shutdown

Home COVID-19NWPB in the Media: Job numbers show Niagara still has long way to go to recover from pandemic shutdown
Photo credit: Niagara Falls Review. Retrieved from original article.

Article By: Allan Benner
Niagara Falls Review
Read original at: https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/news/niagara-region/2020/07/10/niagara-job-numbers-show-long-way-to-go-to-recover-after-pandemic-shutdown.html

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, but Adam Durrant said job-seekers in Niagara still have a long way to go before they reach it — especially if they’re under 24 years old.

“We are engaged in a marathon, not a sprint here,” said Durrant, a Niagara Workforce Planning Board project manager. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is still very long.”

He said the latest Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey results show 169,800 people had jobs in Niagara in June. That’s 1,600 more people working in the region than a month earlier.

The unemployment rate improved slightly too, at 12.8 per cent compared to 13 per cent in May.

“June is showing us that we’re turning the corner and we’re seeing some generally positive month-over-month indicators,” Durrant said. “We should treat that as a cautious base estimate.”

Durrant said the situation is far worse for people under 24 years old.

There were 18,500 people from 15 to 24 years old working in June – about 600 fewer than in May.

“The pandemic has had a measured impact on youth employment.”

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate among young workers has dropped to 30.7 per cent, down from 32.3 per cent in May.

“What that effectively means is we’re seeing youth who are completely discouraged. We’re seeing them leaving the labour market and exiting the job search because potentially they feel like there isn’t work to be found,” he said.

“If they’re full time students who are looking for summer work, it’s going to have an impact on their ability to return to their education and study. If they’re working to support a family, there’s going to be a direct impact on that as well. This is a trend that is very alarming.”

He said the situation will also be difficult for recent graduates, who are now trying to transition into the job market.

“That’s going to be an extraordinarily difficult proposition,” Durrant said.

“The data that we’re seeing right now locally, provincially and nationally is just so much more challenging than anything we saw” during the 2008 and 2009 recession.

Durrant suspects Niagara’s employment numbers might be better than the statistics suggest, but because the data is based on a three-month average “we’re not going to see that for a couple of months yet.”

“There maybe more things happening that aren’t necessarily caught in the data,” he said.

He said a variety of employment sectors are contributing to the job growth, with 1,200 jobs in the goods producing sector while the remaining 400 were in the services industry.

However, Durrant said accommodations and food services jobs continued to drop, with 13,100 people working in the industry in June, compared to 14,500 in May.

That too, he added, could be a result of the three months rolling average and should improve in the months to come. But it’s still a far cry from the pre-COVID-19 pandemic numbers.

“Accommodation and tourism in Ontario in February employed 433,000 people. In June, it employed 294,000. That’s about a 32 per cent decline that you can chalk up to COVID-19 across the entire province,” he said.

There has also been an increase in full time jobs, with 3,000 more people working full time, while the number of part time jobs has decreased by 1,400.

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