Canadian jobs growth accelerates in September but risks from second wave of COVID-19 loom

posted on October 9, 2020

October 9, 2020

By The Globe and Mail

The Canadian economy added 378,000 jobs in September, a result that greatly exceeded expectations.

The unemployment rate declined to 9 per cent from August’s 10.2 per cent, Statistics Canada said Friday. With September’s gain, roughly 76 per cent of three million positions lost during the COVID-19 pandemic have been recovered, leaving a hole of about 720,000 positions.

The median estimate from economists was for an increase of 150,000 positions in September.

Most of the month’s job creation came from full-time work, which rose by 334,000. Employment grew at similar rates in both the services-producing sector (2.1 per cent) and goods sector (2 per cent). Ontario led the provinces with a gain of 168,000 positions, largely driven by progress in the Toronto area. Men (1.8 per cent) and women (2.4 per cent) shared in the gains.

“Back-to-school translated into back-to-work for many Canadians in September,” said Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, in a note to clients. However, he cautioned: “The country is now faced with new virus cases clearly trending in the wrong direction, threatening to upend the labour market recovery.”

Indeed, the return of school had a tangible impact on Friday’s numbers. Employment for both mothers and fathers has returned to pre-COVID levels. September saw a spike in mothers returning to work, which Statscan said was driven by a seasonal increase in educational work.

That said, the number of mothers working less than half their usual hours was 70 per cent higher than in February, compared with 24 per cent for fathers – a sign that COVID-related disruptions, such as sick children, is having a disproportionate impact within families.

Educational services was a standout industry in September, with employment up 68,000. Education positions are now 2.6 per cent higher than in February.

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