Eye on Employment: April 2020

Posted in News, Eye on Employment, COVID-19

Eye on Employment: April 2020

This edition of the Eye on Employment occurs alongside atypical employment impacts due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Over the coming weeks, NWPB will be releasing a series of briefing notes that examine the potential impact of this virus on Niagara’s employment sectors.

It is also likely that the challenging data seen in this month’s Eye on Employment will continue into next month, and possibly beyond that. Support for employers and individuals can be accessed through Niagara’s Employment Ontario network. Please click this link for a list of Niagara’s employment service providers.

Across Canada, March 2020 saw 1,060,500 fewer employed individuals than in February 2020. At this time, it is important to understand that this employment reduction does not directly correlate to slightly more than a million job losses. Data from the labour force survey measure employment changes within the workforce, itself. The extent to which COVID-19 is creating job losses for employers, be they temporary or permanent cannot be determined from this data. NWPB has prepared a summary document that offers additional insights on the terminology found within the Labour Force Survey. This report can be accessed through this link.


The Eye on Employment is NWPB’s monthly breakdown of the latest data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. This document provides a summary of changes in local labour market indicators and offers comparisons to historical benchmarks.



Table 1: Niagara – Current and Historical Trends – Seasonally Unadjusted

Labour force characteristics February 2019 February 2020 March 2019 March 2020
Labour force 212,200 211,600 207,600 205,900
Employment 197,400 199,200 192,400 188,200
Full-time employment 153,200 152,900 149,500 145,700
Part-time employment 44,100 46,400 42,900 42,500
Unemployment 14,800 12,400 15,200 17,700
Unemployment rate 7.0% 5.9% 7.3% 8.6%
Participation rate 59.8% 58.8% 58.4% 57.2%
Employment rate 55.6% 55.3% 54.1% 52.2%

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0095-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0128)


Comparing February to March of 2020 shows 5,700 fewer people either working or looking for work. There were 7,200 fewer people in full-time employment, and 3,900 fewer people in part-time employment. There were 4,200 fewer people employed in March of 2020 compared to March of 2019. This change is largely attributed to decreases in full-time employment, which saw 3,800 fewer people employed in a full-time capacity in March 2020 compared to the month in 2019.

Statistics Canada typically collects data during the third week of a month. This means that the data for March 2020 were collected as employers were beginning to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data emerging from the shut-down of non-essential work and businesses will be reflected in the April 2020 labour force survey data.

Niagara’s unemployment rate increased from 5.9% in February 2020 to 8.6% in March 2020. This occurred alongside month-over-month decreases in the employment rate (from 55.3% to 52.2%) and the participation rate (from 58.8% to 57.2%). This month-over-month change is generally indicative of fewer people in employment and fewer people actively involved in the labour force. It also indicates that there was an increase in the number of individuals actively looking for work. Though employment slowdowns in the winter months are typical of the Niagara region’s seasonal economy, the scale seen in March 2020 is well beyond the benchmarks noted in 2019. NWPB will continue to monitor these trends and provide more insight with the release of April’s employment data on May 8, 2020.

It is important to keep in mind that the data in Table 1 are seasonally unadjusted figures. That means factors such as holidays - and other factors that can be reasonably predicted to influence employment - are not accounted for in these data. Accounting for seasonality shows that there were 9,200 fewer people employed in Niagara between February 2020 and March 2020, which is similar in trend, though smaller in scope to the unadjusted pattern, which saw 11,000 people exiting employment.


The Youth Lens

LFS data also allow us a snapshot of youth (defined as people age 15 to 24) employment in Niagara. Once again these data do not account for seasonality.



Table 2: Niagara – Current and Historical Trends – Youth Age 15 to 24 – Seasonally Unadjusted

Labour force characteristics February 2019 February 2020 March 2019 March 2020
Labour force 34,900 30,400 32,900 30,700
Employment 31,000 26,100 29,200 24,300
Full-time employment 17,200 12,100 15,200 12,000
Part-time employment 13,800 14,000 14,000 12,300
Unemployment 3,900 4,400 3,700 6,400
Unemployment rate 11.2% 14.5% 11.2% 20.8%
Participation rate 62.9% 65.4% 62.3% 62.1%
Employment rate 55.9% 56.1% 55.3% 49.2%

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0095-01 (formerly CANSIM 282-0128)



Statistics Canada reports 1,800 fewer youth working in March 2020 compared to February 2020. There number of youth working in a full-time capacity decreased by 100 individuals, and the number of youth working in a part-time capacity decreased by 1,700. In other words, most of the decline in youth employment between February and March 2020 can be attributed to fewer youth working in a part-time capacity.

March 2020 saw the youth unemployment rate increase from 14.5% in February 2020 to 20.8%. This figure is above the 2019 annual average of 12.5% for youth unemployment. The youth employment rate decreased from 56.1% to 49.2% between February and March 2020, and the participation rate decreased from 65.4% in February to 62.1% in March.


Sectoral Shifts

Table 3 offers additional insight into changing employment patterns within Niagara’s major industry sectors. These data demonstrate that the services-producing sector saw 9,100 fewer people in employment in March 2020 compared to February 2020. The goods-producing sector saw 2,000 fewer people in employment during the same time period.



Table 3: Niagara – Employment Sectors – Monthly and Annual Data

Industry sector Feb 2019 Feb 2020 March 2019 March 2020
Goods-producing sector 43,300 43,000 41,400 41,000
Services-producing sector 154,000 156,300 151,000 147,200
Total employment 197,400 199,200 192,400 188,200

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0097-01 and Table: 14-10-0098-01



Recognizing that monthly industry data from the labour force survey can be volatile and prone to shifts, the March 2020 data suggest that accommodation and food services was the most impacted services-producing sector, with approximately 3,000 fewer people in employment compared to March 2020. Manufacturing was the most impacted goods-producing sector, with approximately 1,400 fewer people in employment in March 2020 compared to February 2020. A three month breakdown is presented in Table 4.



Table 4: Niagara – Detailed Employment Sectors – Monthly and Annual Data

Industry Feb 2019 Feb 2020 March 2019 March 2020
Agriculture 4,100 5,400 3,900 6,000
Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas NA NA NA NA
Utilities NA 1,700 NA 1,500
Construction 21,400 14,400 20,400 13,800
Manufacturing 16,200 21,200 15,200 19,800
Wholesale and retail trade 32,100 32,300 29,800 29,700
Transportation and warehousing 9,700 8,600 9,400 6,900
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing 8,200 7,200 8,600 6,800
Professional, scientific and technical services 10,400 5,500 9,800 5,300
Business, building and other support services 10,700 8,400 9,700 8,300
Educational services 11,400 17,100 12,400 17,700
Health care and social assistance 26,600 25,300 26,800 25,000
Information, culture and recreation 7,200 9,700 6,600 8,100
Accommodation and food services 21,500 26,100 21,500 23,100
Other services (except public administration) 10,400 10,300 9,900 10,400
Public administration 5,900 5,900 6,600 6,100
Total employed, all industries 197,400 199,200 192,400 188,200

Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, Table: 14-10-0097-01 and Table: 14-10-0098-01, NA reflects industries where employment activity exists but is suppressed by Statistics Canada



We now offer the Eye on Employment in a downloadable PDF format. You can download the PDF by clicking this link.

Would you like to know more? NWPB is ready for your questions. Reach out to NWPB’s CEO, Vivian Kinnaird.



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