News Analysis Oct 9, 2020 2:58 PM EST

Canada adds 378,000 jobs in September in uneven economic recovery

The gains represent an improvement over the more sluggish August numbers, when the unemployment rate fell by a mere 0.7 percent.

Canada adds 378,000 jobs in September in uneven economic recovery
Noah David Alter Toronto
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The Canadian economy created 378,000 new jobs in September, according to Statistics Canada, bringing the unemployment rate down to 9.0 percent as the Canadian economy continues to recover from the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus. It is the fourth consecutive month of job gains in an economy which had a peak 13.7 percent unemployment rate as recently as May.

The gains represent an improvement over the more sluggish August numbers, when the unemployment rate fell by a mere 0.7 percent. Both months, however, were outpaced by July, when the economy recovered nearly half a million jobs.

Labour force participation has seen a near complete recovery, down only 0.6 percent since April of this year.

Canadians also appear to be returning to full-time work as 108,000 Canadians switched from part-time to full-time. Despite these promising gains, over one in five part-time workers still say they wish to return to full-time work but cannot.

The gains in employment were not evenly distributed, however. Job growth was centred in Ontario and Quebec, the provinces hardest hit by COVID-19. In New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, the unemployment rate actually rose in September. Of the four largest provinces, Alberta has seen the most sluggish economic recovery.

While manufacturing employment has almost completely recovered since the start of the pandemic, and is actually higher than pre-pandemic levels in Ontario, manufacturing jobs remain more than 12 percent below pre-coronavirus levels in Alberta.

Despite touting a "feminist" and "intersectional recovery" in the Liberal Party's throne speech, unemployment among women, minorities, and youth trails behind most other demographics. The demographic with the highest unemployment rate, however, is young men between the ages of 15 and 24, who face an unemployment rate of 20.5 percent.

Despite promising gains in the manufacturing and education sectors, food service, retail, construction, and transportation industries continue to lag behind in the recovery, representing three quarters of the jobs deficit in comparison to February. Likewise, unemployment remains significantly higher among low-wage workers, which have seen a 22.1 percent decline in employment since last September.

While the food services industry has recovered at a much faster pace than retail, the government warns that this could change come winter, when eating outdoors will become impractical in most Canadian cities.

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