Jobs For Women To Fall Behind As 1.75 Million Canadians Go Back To Work

A new forecast has good news for the millions of Canadians who lost their jobs in the pandemic: With lockdowns ending, the country is about to see a massive (re-)hiring spree.

Canada will add 1.75 million jobs in June and July, U.K.-based Capital Economics predicted in a report issued Tuesday.

“That would be a big improvement but, together with May’s gain, would only make up 68 per cent of the drop from February to April, with almost one million people still out of work,” senior Canada economist Stephen Brown wrote.

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While Capital Economics didn’t break down their forecast by gender, they did break it down by industry, and it showed that industries dominated by men ― particularly construction ― are set to recover faster.

“The surprising resilience of housing starts and local government efforts to boost spending suggests construction employment will be back near its pre-virus levels relatively quickly,” Brown wrote.

But sectors where women are over-represented, such as accommodation and food services, will see a slower rebound, according to Brown’s forecast.

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That has been the case so far. Canada added 290,000 jobs in May, but men more than doubled women’s job growth that month, with the number of employed men rising 2.3 per cent, while the number of employed women rose by 1.1 per cent.

While those more female-oriented sectors “are unlikely to rise to anywhere near pre-virus levels … they should still contribute meaningfully to the coming rebound,” Brown wrote.

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Despite the increase in jobs, the unemployment rate jumped to 13.7 per cent in May due to more people looking for work as the lockdowns ended. That’s the highest jobless rate ever, in a data set going back to 1976.

Brown noted that the vast majority of job gains in May happened in Quebec, and its jobless rate dropped sharply to 13.7 per cent, from 17 per cent in April. That’s because Quebec restarted its construction and manufacturing industries before the May labour force survey took place, from May 10 to May 16.

The next two labour force surveys will capture the reopenings of the Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta economies, Brown wrote. Those three provinces account for 63 per cent of Canada’s population.

But with one million still unemployed and uncertainty surrounding many industries, the economy won’t be out of the woods just yet.

“We expect the pace of monthly gains to be slower from August and, while we expect the unemployment rate to be back below 9 per cent by the end of the summer … we do not expect it to return to its pre-virus low within the next few years.”

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