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Lockdowns lead to 207,000 jobs lost in Canada

NIAGARA FALLS CANADA, March 2, 2021 -- A
A "closed" sign is seen on a door of a restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (Getty Images)

Canada's job market shed 207,000 jobs in April, which was worse than the 150,000 jobs lost economists had expected amid tough restrictions during the third wave of COVID-19.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 8.1 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

Employment in full-time jobs fell by 129,000 and part-time jobs dropped by 78,000.

The number of Canadians working less than half their usual hours was up by 288,000, and 100,000 more people started working from home to bring the total to 5.1 million.

A stay-at-home order in Ontario led to 153,000 jobs lost, following gains in the previous two months. British Columbia was the other big contributor, losing 43,000 jobs. Saskatchewan and New Brunswick added jobs, while the rest of the country was relatively unchanged.

Industries affected by public health measures suffered the most losses. These include retail trade (-84,000); accommodation and food services (-59,000); and information, culture and recreation (-26,000).

"It was no surprise where the pain was felt most acutely, with high-contact services sectors reversing much of the gains seen during the lull in between the second and third waves of the virus," said CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes.

"With tightened restrictions in response to the third wave still in place to begin May, and some parts of the country requiring even harsher measures, more job losses could show up in the next report."

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Leah Nord, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's senior director of workforce strategies and inclusive growth, worries about the population becoming desensitized to the big job market declines followed by rebounds. She says rebounds and sustainable recovery aren't the same things.

"Our collective focus is currently on the light at the end of the vaccine tunnel, but we risk losing sight of the continued turbulence in labour market – and what that means for the Canadians bearing the brunt of it," she said.

"This recent lockdown will mean more permanent business closures. The job prospects for displaced workers grow slimmer with every month in lockdown as more businesses throw in the towel. Canada's entrepreneurs are tapped out and the longer restrictions continue, the worse the situation will become."

Meanwhile, the U.S added 266,000 jobs in April, way below the one million jobs gain economists expected.

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

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