Article By: Ray Spiteri
St. Catharines Standard
Read original at: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/business/2020/11/06/niagaras-unemployment-rate-continues-to-drop.html
Niagara’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2 per cent and 6,300 more people found work in October compared to September.
That continues a positive downward trend — the region’s unemployment rate was 8.8 per cent in September, 11.3 per cent in August, and 12.6 per cent in May.
“We have some very positive indicators, but we want to be careful that those positive indicators aren’t overshadowing some of the deeper challenges of our post-COVID recovery,” said Adam Durrant, project manager for Niagara Workforce Planning Board.
He said while there is good news in Friday’s data, contained in Statistics Canada’s monthly employment report, gains Niagara experienced between September and October were in part-time work.
“Niagara actually had 800 fewer people in full-time employment in October than we had in September. The province also saw reductions in the number of people working full-time and increases in the number of people working part-time,” said Durrant.
“We generally want to see … consistency in the part-time and more gains in the full-time.”
He said the employment landscape is being driven by COVID-19 and its unpredictable impact on Niagara’s economy.
“When we look at where we are compared to this time last year … in October of 2019, our unemployment rate was five per cent. Compared to this time last year, there are 6,200 fewer people working, and there are 9,300 fewer people working in a full-time capacity, but 3,100 more people working in a part-time capacity.”
Durrant said since Niagara moved into Stage 3 of reopening in mid-July, the region has seen month-over-month employment gains.
But with COVID cases rising here, if there were a return to tighter restrictions it might erase the gains made in employment during recent months.
Durrant said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about Niagara’s current employment climate, noting “we have factors that are beyond our control that are going to impact how things play out over the next couple of months.”
He said weather conditions will determine how accommodations and food service businesses manage up until Christmas.
“Consumer confidence is going to have a direct impact on whether or not we see a bump in employment in retail sales over the next couple of months.”
Combined, those two sectors are employing 10,000 fewer people in October of this year than they were in October 2019, said Durrant.
“That’s a real challenge, and these are sectors that have been profoundly impacted by COVID,” he said.
“These are sectors where we generally see more women employed than men, and we know that women have been profoundly impacted by COVID, much more than men have in terms of their employment.”
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