OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the economy added 55,000 jobs in December before COVID-19 cases began spiking at the end of the month.
The agency says in its labour force survey that the increase in the number of people working came as the unemployment rate edged down to 5.9 per cent compared with 6.0 per cent in November.
It was the lowest unemployment rate since February 2020 before the pandemic when it was 5.7 per cent.
The overall increase in jobs in December was due to a gain in full-time jobs of 123,000, while part-time employment fell by 68,000 for the month.
The report was based on survey results done during the week of Dec. 5 to 11, before the public restrictions put in place to slow the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
The highly transmissible Omicron variant has fuelled a massive spike in COVID-19 cases and prompted a return to restrictions in many parts of the country that have forced many businesses to temporarily close or curtail operations.
Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey for December can be viewed here. The report showed:
- Full-time employment rose by 123,000 (+0.8%), while part-time employment declined by 68,000 (-1.9%).
- Total hours worked fell 0.3% in December, the first monthly decline since June 2021.
- Among core-aged men aged 25 to 54, employment increased by 63,000 (+1.0%), making it 162,000 (+2.5%) higher than in February 2020.
- Although little changed in December, employment for core-aged women has also trended upward since June and was 130,000 (+2.2%) above its pre-pandemic level in December.
- Public sector employment rose by 32,000 (+0.8%), while there was little change in the number of private sector employees and the number of self-employed workers.
- Among workers who worked at least half their usual hours, the proportion who worked from home was little changed in December at 23.8%.
- Average hourly wages increased 2.7% (+$0.80) on a year-over-year basis in December.
Expert weighs in
Tanya Gullison, chief revenue officer of LHH, provided her thoughts on the survey findings:
“Although the ‘Great Resignation’ has yet to come to fruition within Corporate Canada, we are seeing the emergence of a ‘Great Reflection’ across the country, in which Canadian workers seek out new forms of balance and reconsider the role of work. We’re also seeing a ‘Great Resilience’ among Canadian employers, who have endured and managed through significant transformation throughout the pandemic. Employers and employees have accepted the reality that flexibility, uncertainty and adaptability are now part of organizational success.”
“Business communities optimistically believed that 2022 would bring normalcy, however with another wave of change on the horizon, it’s pertinent that employers strengthen their talent strategies to weather the storm. The difference from previous years however, is that leaders are familiar with the challenges that pandemic-driven lockdowns bring, equipping them to be proactive in the face of change and adapt in real-time to ensure business continuity.”
“The future of work is in flux as business leaders reshape the image of a successful workplace, with talent attraction and retention in a remote setting outpacing the technological concerns identified early in the pandemic. Re-evaluating vacation time, sick days, paid leave and five-day workweeks are all being considered to suit a new suite of employee expectations and retain crucial talent. To be successful, businesses must reimagine company culture by piloting productivity programs and listening to employees’ needs.”
“The transmissibility of Omicron has created heightened demand for wage subsidies, despite the spike in job placement we saw following the removal of CRB this past fall. As we look to the coming months, we may see a decline in high-contact jobs as workers fall back on financial support benefits like CWLB. This is led by the retail and hospitality industries again facing the brunt of province-wide lockdowns and battling staffing shortages, capacity limits and closures.”
“Parents, with particular emphasis on working moms, are at heightened risk due to extended school closures and balancing the stress of work, childcare and education responsibilities. As employers and businesses across Canada continue to identify ways to encourage healthier work-life balance, it is crucial they develop and execute long-term strategies that address this ongoing strain amongst working women.”
With files from Talent Canada
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