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Economy lost 207,000 jobs in April as renewed restrictions closed businesses

Losses nearly wipe out labour market gains from March


During COVID-19, small businesses have been left to contend with fewer shoppers, constantly changing restrictions and a struggle to shift operations online. (daniilvolkov/Adobe Stock)

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the economy lost 207,000 jobs in April as a new rise in COVID-19 cases led to renewed public health restrictions that closed businesses.

The unemployment rate rose to 8.1 per cent from 7.5 per cent in March.

Statistics Canada says the number of employed people in April working less than half their usual hours increased by 288,000 or 27.2 per cent.

The losses in April nearly wiped out the 303,000 jobs added in March when the economy outpaced expectations and put the country about half a million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

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More losses were seen in full-time work than part-time work, with the retail sector hit hardest.

Regionally, Ontario saw a drop of 153,000 positions in April, and British Columbia witnessed its first decrease in employment since a historic plunge in the labour market in April 2020.

Looking ahead: What’s next for small business?

Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey for April was released this morning and can be seen here.

“The April results highlighted the anticipated uneven recovery for Canada’s labour force,” said Jim Mitchell, president of LHH, a human resources consultancy in Toronto. “Although March projected an optimistic increase in jobs, it does not come as a surprise that we saw a slight drop last month after stricter lockdowns were imposed in many provinces.”

“This can be attributed to the quick openings and even quicker closures of businesses and heavily impacted hospitality and retail sectors which continue to be the most obstructed by public health measures. The rollout of vaccines in the upcoming summer months should translate into a more consistent recovery and a faster hiring pace.”

With files by Talent Canada staff