Canadian Employment (June 2021)

Sri Thanabalasingam, Senior Economist | 416-413-3117

Date Published: July 9, 2021

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Employment bounces back as restrictions ease

  • The Canadian labour market added 231k positions in June, ahead of consensus expectations for 175k. This left employment around 340k or 1.8% short of its pre-pandemic (February 2020) level. Gains were in part-time (+264k) employment, while full-time (-33k) fell on the month.
  • The labour force also grew in June, rising by 170k. The labour force participation rate increased to 65.2% from 64.6%, matching its peak since the pandemic began. Due to the stronger rebound in employment relative to the labour force, the unemployment rate fell to 7.8% from 8.2% in May. 
  • By industry, job gains were entirely in services industries (+279k). Accommodation and food services (+101k), retail trade (+75k), and other services (+24k) drove the pickup in June. Only transportation and warehousing (-18k) saw a sizeable fall last month. Meanwhile on the good side, employment declined by 48k. The drop was broad based, with every industry seeing a fall in employment. Construction (-23k) experienced the steepest drop due to less self-employed workers in the sector. 
  • In terms of provinces, Ontario added the most jobs, with employment rising 117k in June. Quebec (+72k) and British Columbia (+42k) also saw job gains last month. Saskatchewan (-7k), Manitoba (-6k) and Prince Edward Island (-1k) recorded declines, while it was little changed elsewhere. 
  • Finally, total hours worked did not move much in June, declining 0.2%. It was 4% below the pre-pandemic level.    

Key Implications

  • Reopen and jobs will come. This has been the mantra through the pandemic, and June was no different. As vaccinations ramped up and provinces moved into the first stage of their reopening plans, employers moved into hiring mode, bringing in thousands of workers. There's some way to go to get to pre-pandemic levels, but last month was an encouraging sign of things to come.  
  • With consumers rushing to patios and retail stores, businesses that had struggled during the pandemic ramped up operations in June. While they were responsible for nearly 90% of the job gains, ongoing capacity constraints dampened the rebound. Further reopening and less health worries should result in July being another banner month for the labour market recovery. Employers will be keen to boost their workforce, and get back to running at full speed to make up for losses during the last year. Consumers are itching to spend, and businesses will need to be ready to meet that demand.