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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Rapid Update: March Labour Force Survey results

Statistics Canada released the March 2020 Labour Force Survey (LFS) results today, reflecting the first month in which we saw a major impact of COVID-19.

  • 3.1 million Canadians were affected by either job loss or reduced hours.
  • Employment fell by over 1 million, or -5.3%. The employment rate fell 3.3 percentage points to 58.5%. This is the lowest rate since April, 1997.
  • The unemployment rate increased by 2.2 percentage points to 7.8%. This is the largest one-month increase since comparable data became available in 1976, reflecting an additional 413,000 people out of work. The number of Canadians who had worked recently and wanted to work but did not meet the definition of ‘unemployed’ increased by 193,000. Almost all of the increase is due to temporary layoffs.
  • Among people employed in March, an additional 1.3 million people did not work any hours during the ‘reference week’ of March 15-21.
  • 1.3 million Canadians missed work for the entire ‘reference week’ of March 15-21. An additional 800,000 worked less than half of their usual hours.
  • The number of self-employed people declined by only 1.2%. Self-employed people are likely to report that they are still attached to their business even if they are not working.
  • Youth unemployment increased by 49.7%. The current youth unemployment rate is 16.8%, the highest rate since June, 1997. Adding the numbers of youth who wanted work but did not search due to COVID-19-related reasons gives a supplemental youth unemployment rate of 20.7%.
  • The accommodation and food service industry shed 23.9% of its jobs. This decrease is the largest since comparable data became available in 1976. Culture and recreation declined by 13.3%, educational services by 9.1%, and wholesale/retail trade by 7.2%. These were the largest decreases.
  • In Niagara, the employment rate increased by 2.3% to 7.8%, and the employment rate dropped by 2.6% to 53.8%. These figures are markedly worse than in nearby regions such as Hamilton, Guelph, Brantford, or London.
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