Canada added 84,000 jobs in October but accommodation and food services hurt by COVID-19

Jessy Bains
·2 min read

Canada’s job market added 84,000 jobs in October, as some provinces put restrictions in place to combat a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Although it’s the sixth-straight month of job growth and employment is approximately 80 per cent recovered, gains have decelerated after adding 378,000 jobs in September.

Employment in professional, scientific and technical services, educational services, and wholesale trade are back above pre-pandemic levels.

“It was always likely that employment would slow following the unexpectedly strong 378,000 increase in September, and an average of the gains in September and October matches that in August, despite the rise in COVID-19 case growth and the new restrictions,” said Capital Economics’ Stephen Brown.

“That is encouraging and supports our view that continued recoveries in the goods-producing and professional service sectors will keep pushing GDP higher in the fourth quarter, even as activity in some customer-facing sectors drops back.”

Most gains were in full-time positions (69,000) and the unemployment rate was little changed to 8.9 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

The number of workers affected by the pandemic fell from a peak of 5.1 million to 1.1 million.

Core aged women (aged 25 to 54) saw an increase of 40,000 mostly full-time jobs, for the sixth straight month of gains.

A rise in COVID-19 cases meant an additional 150,000 people who worked at least half their usual hours worked from home. It also meant 48,000 jobs lost in accommodation and food services, primarily in Quebec, following five straight months of increases.

Total hours worked increased by 0.8 per cent.

“The labour market is now more resilient to the pandemic than it was during the spring, but the health crisis continues to prevent things from getting back to normal,” said Indeed’s Brendon Bernard.

“Encouragingly though, the modest employment increase wasn’t papering over a drop-off in total hours worked, which grew slightly quicker than jobs last month.”

Employment increased in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island and was steady everywhere else.

“It seems like employment readings are destined to ebb and flow over the coming fall and winter months, as governments try to adjust activity in attempts to contain the virus,” said CIBC’s Royce Mendes

“However, the fact that the economy was able to post another gain in October is good news versus our early expectation for a slight contraction in GDP during the month.”

Although there has been a string of monthly job gains, long-term unemployment — those who are unemployed and have been looking for work, or on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more — hit record highs in September and October. Nearly a quarter of unemployed Canadians fit into this category.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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