Article By: Gord Howard
St. Catharines Standard
Read original at: https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/business/2020/12/04/niagara-gains-part-time-jobs-but-full-time-work-declines.html
Niagara’s unemployment rate dropped again in November to 6.7 per cent, continuing its steady decline from 8.8 per cent in September and 7.2 per cent in October.
The downward trend looks good, but looks can be deceptive, said Adam Durrant, project manager for the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.
While 2,800 more Niagara residents gained part-time employment in November, 3,100 lost or gave up their full-time jobs. That’s a net employment loss of 300 people.
As well, about 1,500 people dropped out of the workforce — for various reasons — “and that’s artificially driving down the unemployment rate,” Durrant said.
“If we look at where we were compared to this time last year, we have about 12,000 fewer people in full-time employment and 4,700 more in part-time employment … COVID-19 has accelerated some of the (trends) that were already taking place within the labour market.”
The numbers were contained in Statistics Canada’s monthly employment survey report released Friday.
Among key sectors in Niagara, employment at hotels and restaurants stayed steady with 19,400 people employed. That’s still a sharp drop from November 2019, when about 24,800 people worked there.
Construction, education services and business support all gained employment last month, while wholesale-retail and health care lost jobs.
Saying the data continues to leave him “cautiously optimistic,” Durrant said Niagara’s loss of full-time employment “doesn’t mean that the jobs aren’t there.
“That means people aren’t doing them … the narrative now is fewer people are working full-time hours, not that full-time jobs are disappearing.”
Some people may have retired or chosen to stay home during the pandemic, or moved willingly to part-time work from full-time.
While it’s “a challenging time for employers,” he said “we’ve had a lot of consultations with economic development officers over the last month.
“None of the narratives that have been coming out of that are that we’re losing employers left, right and centre.”
One worrisome statistic, he said, is the impact COVID has had on women’s employment in Niagara.
“About 40.7 per cent of full-time employment was held by women (last month). If we go back to November 2019, it was 45 per cent.
“That’s all COVID, right there,” he said.
Before the pandemic, the employment gender gap in Niagara “was working to be narrowed, and now we’ve given back all those gains.”
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