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Canada lost 2 million jobs in April as full brunt of pandemic hit the economy

The unemployment rate jumped 5.2 points in April to 13 per cent in the first full month of economic restrictions.

OTTAWA—Canada lost nearly two million jobs in April as the full brunt of the pandemic hit the economy, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

Friday’s numbers paint a fuller picture of the economic toll of the government-mandated closures that have shuttered hospitality and retail businesses across the country in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The statistical agency also reported that the number of people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours for reasons related to COVID-19 jumped by 2.5 million from February to April.

By the week of April 12, the number of Canadians who were either not employed or working substantially reduced hours because of the virus totalled 5.5 million, or more than one-quarter of February’s employment level.

Statistics Canada says the magnitude of the drop in employment since February — down 15.7 per cent — far exceeds losses experienced in previous downturns. The agency notes that in the 1981-1982 recession, employment dropped 5.4 per cent over 17 months.

“The actions taken by various levels of government to protect public health amounted to an intentional shutdown of the economy which resulted in a sudden shock to the Canadian labour market,” Statistics Canada reported.

The March numbers — which showed the loss of more than one million jobs, driving the unemployment rate up 2.2 points to 7.8 per cent — only captured the early stages of that economic impact.
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Employment dropped sharply between February to April in Canada’s biggest cities, with the Toronto region seeing a loss of 539,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to 11.1 per cent.

In response to the economic crisis, the federal government has implemented a raft of programs designed to support businesses and individuals, including wage subsidies, rent relief and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — which pays $500 a week over 16 weeks. By May 5, 7.6 million Canadians had applied for the benefit and it had paid out $28.6 billion.

Statistics Canada     5/8/2020


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