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StatCan reports employment fell by more than one million in March

Last Updated Apr 9, 2020 at 9:24 am MDT

OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says employment fell by more than one million last month as businesses shut down due to COVID-19.

The agency reported the unemployment rate rose to 7.8 per cent from 6.6 per cent in February.

Alberta lost 117,000 jobs in March with the unemployment rate rising to 8.7 per cent.

Quebec saw the largest drop in it’s rate with unemployment in March hitting 8.1 per cent up from 4.5 per cent in February.

The 2.2 per cent increase in the national unemployment rate marks the worst single-month change over the last 40-plus years of comparable data and brings the rate to a level not seen since October 2010.

Economists warn the numbers are likely to be even worse when the agency starts collecting April job figures, with millions more Canadians now receiving emergency federal aid.

Statistics Canada retooled some of its usual measures of counting employed, unemployed and “not in the labour force” to better gauge the effects of COVID-19 on the job market, which has been swift and harsh.

The number of people considered unemployed rose by 413,000 between February and March, almost all of it fuelled by temporary layoffs, meaning workers expected their jobs back in six months.

The jobs report out this morning also says that most of the losses were in the private sector, with the greatest employment declines observed for youth aged 15 to 24.


-with files from The Canadian Press