Calm ahead of storm Omicron in December employment data

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The seas for jobs in Canada appeared calm in December, according to data collected before the COVID-19 variant Omicron spread rapidly in Ontario and other provinces during the winter recess.

There has been a slight overall increase in employment, Statistics Canada reported on Friday, again led by senior men and with growth concentrated in Ontario, which will likely serve as a watermark to compare the impact of the new variant contagious but seemingly gentler on the job. with earlier versions of the virus.

Full-time employment increased by 123,000, continuing an upward trend since June and nearly doubling its surge above pre-pandemic levels, while the number of people working part-time declined by 68 000.

Part-time employment has been broadly stable since June and is roughly at the same level as in February 2020.

Omicron has since pushed the government of Premier Doug Ford to impose virtual learning after the winter break, cancel elective surgeries, revert to restrictions on the size of gatherings, and close theaters, museums and facilities. indoor sports. Government officials speak of absenteeism rates of 20 or 30 percent.

“The rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the re-imposed containment measures – including the shutdown of high-contact service sectors in Ontario and Quebec – mean employment will most likely drop significantly in January,” Nathan Janzen wrote, Senior Economist at RBC Economics, in a note to clients on the report.

Youth and young workers make up a larger portion of the workforce in these industries, which also include wholesale and retail trade, as well as information, culture and recreation.

Despite an increase of more than 100,000 in 2021, employment in accommodation and food services remained at more than 200,000 below pre-COVID levels, with weak growth since September, suggesting persistent recruitment challenges.

Janzen expects the overall pullout to be followed by an equally rapid recovery soon after, with short-term labor shortages even in industries where the amended second-stage restrictions don’t. do not require closure, but self-isolation and quarantine limit capacity.

Evidence suggests the latest iteration of COVID-19 is milder in most cases than the previously dominant Delta strain, although it still keeps hospital staff busy and large numbers of home workers sick, isolated in due to exposure or no work that was closed down.

Employment in Ontario increased for the seventh consecutive month, adding 47,000 jobs in December for a total gain of 468,000 since May. The gains were mostly enjoyed by young and middle-aged men who found work in wholesale and retail trade and in manufacturing.

Job growth in the Greater Toronto Area was flat for the month, but is up 10% since May.

The national unemployment rate fell in December for men in each of the three main age groups: 15 to 24 years (-1.1 percentage point to 11.9%); 25 to 54 (-0.5 percentage points to 4.6%); and 55 and over (-0.4 percentage point to 6.3 percent).

Among women, the unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 24 increased 1.7 percentage points to 9.6%, while it was little changed for other age groups.

The information, culture and recreation industry saw a noticeable recovery in employment in 2021, but it mainly occurred in late summer and early fall, returning to its level before the pandemic in September.


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