Unemployment in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) hit double-digits in May 2020 against the backdrop of COVID-19.
According to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, unemployment in Greater Victoria hit 10.1 per cent in May, up from 7.2 in April 2020. In March, regional unemployment stood at 4.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent in February.
These spikes reflect the various measures including travel restrictions, business closures and physical distancing that added up to what the survey called an “intentional shutdown of the economy” resulted in an “unprecedented shock” to the Canadian labour market, including employment losses of more than 3 million.
Greater Victoria’s economy — one of the strongest in Canada, as measured by unemployment figure — was not immune to this shock, with the proviso that the regional unemployment rate has consistently remained below the provincial average (13.4 per cent) and national average (13.7 per cent), the highest rate recorded since comparable data became available in 1976. In February, prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent before rising to 7.8 per cent in March and 13 per cent in April.
Looking beyond the big picture, the available data a great deal of variability across a range of industries, age groups, and provinces, with provincial differences reflecting differences in the easing of restrictions.
As the report says, COVID-19 economic shutdowns had the most severe impact on industries where working from home was less practical and on lower-wage workers. Lower-wage jobs have since rebound the most with the initial easing of restrictions. This said, low-wage workers continue to have a higher share of people working less than half of their usual hours for COVID-19-related reasons, compared to other paid employees. In May, 24.3 per cent of all low-wage workers worked less than 50 per cent of their usual hours, compared with 9.6 per cent for all other paid employees.
Female workers, young workers and workers who recently arrived in Canada as immigrants also continue to suffer disproportionately from the economic effects of the pandemic.
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