Economic reopening sparks job gains, but staff shortages seen too

By James Langton | August 26, 2021 | Last updated on August 26, 2021
1 min read
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With the easing of public health restrictions in June, payroll employment surged, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

Employment rose by 1.3% in June, StatsCan said, with the increase driven by the services sectors in Ontario and Quebec “as the easing of public health measures allowed many businesses in accommodation and food services and in retail trade to reopen.”

In Ontario employment rose 1.6% (representing 95,500 workers), while Quebec gained 2.1% (79,200 workers).

On a national basis, employment was up by 214,800 in June.

Despite these gains, payroll employment remains down by 769,900 from pre-pandemic levels, which is 4.5% lower compared with February 2020, StatsCan said.

For the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, employment was still 38.8% below its pre-pandemic level in June, and employment was down 28.2% in the accommodation and food service sector too. Retail employment remained down 3.7%.

The fact that the increase in employment in June was powered by low-wage service jobs resulted in average weekly earnings declining by 1% to about $1,125, StatsCan reported.

However, with employment still significantly lagging in low-wage sectors (arts, food services), average weekly earnings remain 7.6% above pre-pandemic levels.

“The disproportionate loss of employment in lower-paying sectors has the effect of increasing overall average earnings,” StatsCan said.

At the same time, StatsCan said the job vacancy rate was 5% in June, with most of these openings (80%) in services sectors.

“Canadian employers were actively recruiting for an estimated 815,800 positions in June 2021, as public health measures related to the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic were significantly eased,” it said.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.