As physical distancing requirements and the closure of all non-essential businesses continued in April, the province lost 689,200 jobs, according to a new report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO).
The drop in jobs brought the province’s employment down to its lowest level since 2009 and as a result, Ontario’s unemployment rate climbed to 11.3% in April — up from 7.6% in March. The FAO says this 3.7 percentage points jump was the largest single-month increase on record, bringing the jobless rate to its highest point since June 1993.
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The FAO says nearly all the job losses were related to the government-directed closure of non-essential activities starting in mid-March. Since then, the FAO estimates that about 2.2 million Ontario workers – nearly one in three jobs in the province – have been directly affected through either job losses (1.1 million) or sharply reduced hours (1.1 million).
Among the report’s other highlights, almost 87% of the job losses between February and April occurred in the private sector (-947,500), while public sector employment (-88,700) and self-employment (-55,700) recorded relatively smaller declines.
Part-time workers lost jobs at more than twice the pace (-27.9%) of full-time workers (-11.5%). What’s more, workers in industries with below-average wages, which includes wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and food services, have accounted for seven in 10 jobs lost since February.
The FAO says job losses have also been more pronounced for temporary workers (-28%) and youth (-32.4%), while more women have lost their jobs since February, 577,200 compared to 514,800 men.
April’s labour report is a clear indication of the economic damage caused by the COVID shutdowns, which has caused an estimated 2.2 million Ontarians to be without work since the pandemic started. Ontario’s job market is expected to improve gradually as the economy is slowly reopened over the coming months.