Canada’s August gains bring employment closer to pre-pandemic levels

OTTAWA (AFP) – A third consecutive month of job gains pushed Canada’s unemployment rate down 0.4 percentage points in August to 7.1 per cent – its lowest level since the onset of the pandemic, the national statistics agency said on Friday.

Canada’s unemployment rate has trended downward since a peak of 13.7 per cent in May 2020 that was more than double historic lows a few months earlier. Combined with gains in June and July, the August increase brought employment to within 156,000 (-0.8 per cent) of its pre-pandemic levels, said Statistics Canada.

Employment rose in the month for men aged 25-54 and older workers, it said, while the employment rate continued to tick up for recent immigrants, indigenous peoples and youth.

Most of the 90,000 net new jobs were full-time.

Following the lifting of public health measures to slow the spread of the virus, the share of Canadians working from home continued to fall – down 1.8 percentage points to 24.0 per cent, its lowest level since onset of the pandemic.

Job-changing has gradually increased over the past year while average wages climbed 5.2 per cent or CAD1.48 in August compared with the 2019 average.

Employment gains were mostly in the private sector, but self-employment continues to lag.

The service sector continued to bounce back, led by gains in accommodation and food services, and information, culture and recreation.

Smaller monthly increases were also recorded in professional, scientific and technical services, and public administration, while employment declined in “other services”, finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing, and business, building and other support services.

Downtown Montreal in Quebec, Canada. PHOTO: AFP