Today, Statistics Canada released its monthly labour force data for April, the first full month since the impact of COVID-19 began to be felt.
The national unemployment rate is 13%, up from 5.6% in February. This is the second-worst rate recorded since 1976, when comparable data was first available. Niagara’s unemployment rate officially stands at 9.9%.
However, it should be noted that Niagara’s rate is based on a three-month average, which means data from February and March are “pulling down” the official unemployment rate, whereas national and provincial data are true to the month of reporting. Both methods are legitimate means of data collection, but the effect is an under-estimation of local rates in the rare case of a rapid swing upward. Niagara’s actual unemployment rate is likely much higher.
Furthermore, the national April unemployment rate would be 17.8% if it were adjusted to reflect those who were not counted as unemployed for reasons specific to the COVID-19 economic shutdown. A similar increase would be likely in Niagara.
Among the hardest-hit industries have been accommodation and food services, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade. More than half of all retailers have laid off at least 80% of their workforce. 64% of healthcare and social assistance organizations have done the same, as well as 69% of accommodation and food service businesses.
Niagara’s industrial landscape is heavily weighted towards these industries. Those which were least-hit (finance and insurance, public administration, real estate, etc.) do not have as strong a representation in Niagara. Because of this, and the statistical reporting which causes Niagara’s rate to look more favourable right now, we expect that Niagara’s unemployment rate will continue to rise, and that the current rate is substantially under-reported.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in Niagara and the second-largest Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, with 1,500 members representing 50,000 employees. More information on the GNCC is available at gncc.ca.
For more information and interviews, contact:
Mishka Balsom, President & CEO of GNCC
Mishka@gncc.ca or 905-684-2361