TORONTO – Ontario lost 689,200 jobs in April, bringing the province’s employment down to its lowest level since late 2009.
As a result, Ontario’s unemployment rate climbed to 11.3 percent in April, its highest level since June 1993.
The unemployment rate in April would have been even higher, at 15.1 per cent, if many laid-off workers had not decided to give up looking for work because of limited job opportunities. Since February, 706,000 of the 1.1 million who lost jobs decided not to look for employment, lowering the labour force participation rate to its lowest point on record back to 1976.
These are some the findings of the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) report looking at Ontario’s labour market results for April, during the ongoing economic shutdown prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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).
Almost 87 percent of the job losses between February and April occurred in the private sector ( down 947,500), while public sector employment ( down 88,700) and self-employment ( down 55,700) recorded relatively smaller declines. Part-time workers lost jobs at more than twice the pace ( down 27.9 percent) compared to full-time workers ( down 11.5 percent).
Employment in small businesses (with up to 99 employees) declined by 848,000 workers, or by 20.5 percent from February to April 2020. Small business job losses accounted for almost 78 percent of the overall employment decline, much larger than its 62 percent share of total employment.
In contrast, employment by medium-sized firms (with 100 to 500 employees) declined by 9.2 percent, while among large firms (more than 500 employees), employment was down by 10 percent.
Workers in industries with below-average wages (including wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and food services) have accounted for seven in 10 jobs lost since February.
Job losses have also been more pronounced for temporary workers (down 28.0 percent) and youth ( down 32.4 percent).
Since February, job losses among women ( down 577,200) have been somewhat larger than for men ( down 514,800).