Article By: Gord Howard
Niagara Falls Review
Read original at: https://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/News/Local/2020/06/05/niagaras-unemployment-rate-among-ontarios-highest-report.html
The latest national labour force survey gave Canada a small reason to celebrate, but Niagara wasn’t invited to the party.
Instead, another 9,500 residents here lost their employment between April and mid-May. More than three-quarters of those were in the services sector that includes tourism, accommodation and food services.
Since February, more than 31,000 people across Niagara have been left without work, according to the Statistics Canada survey that shows the effect of the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
“We’re really starting to see the impacts of this on the youth workforce as well,” said Adam Durrant, operations and research manager for the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.
“We are at 32.3 per cent youth unemployment right now (for people between the ages of 15 and 25) … it was 12.1 per cent” at this time last year.
While the national unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent — the highest since 1976 — the country did get back 289,600 of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Niagara’s seasonally adjusted rate was 12.6 per cent, up from 9.9 per cent in April.
Across Ontario, more than 47,000 people regained their employment last month, mostly in manufacturing and construction.
Durrant said much of that is likely due to the province allowing more construction work to restart, and that the manufacturing sector has been busy producing personal protective equipment for health-care workers.
Data from his office and others across the province will be used by different levels of government to plot an economic recovery.
Friday’s report does present the truest picture yet of Niagara’s employment situation.
The region’s data is measured on a three-month rolling average, so previous reports from March and April were partly skewed by information from before the pandemic forced businesses to close.
By covering the period from mid-March to mid-May, this is the first survey taken entirely during COVID-19. So while some of the numbers look worse than in previous months, it’s not necessarily so, said Durrant.
In Niagara, two areas — food and accommodations, and information, culture and recreation — bore the brunt of job losses.
“Employment in (information, culture and rec) is down by 52 per cent” since February, said Durrant. “And accommodation and food services is down 44 per cent in those three months.
“That’s 17,000 people who were employed in February that are not employed in May, and February is largely the slow season for accommodation and tourism. That’s the off-peak time.”
Across Canada, Statscan found that of the 290,000 people who returned to work, just over 70 per cent were male. And in Ontario, even among people who were still employed nearly one quarter were working less than half their usual hours.
“We’re seeing dramatic changes across the board as to how business is done,” said Durrant.
“Last count Statscan did, they had 6.8 million people in Canada working from home. That’s 40 per cent of the Canadian workforce, roughly, is working from home now amid pushing 15 per cent unemployment.
“This is going to have impacts on things like child care and education … how do we adapt to parents working from home while children are doing online learning and there is an increased need for parental involvement in that … day to day educational process.”
On Friday, the province announced short-term rentals will be allowed again at places like cottages, homes and condos.
And Premier Doug Ford has said he might announce further easing of restrictions next week, possibly expanding the current limit of five people allowed to gather together.
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