Canada’s economy lost nearly 2 million jobs in April as the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down entire non-essential industries, the country’s national statistics agency reported on Friday.
The loss of 1,993,800 jobs in April came on top of more than one million job losses in March, bringing the total employment decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown to more than 3 million.
In addition, the number of people who were employed but worked less than half of their usual hours for reasons related to COVID-19 increased by 2.5 million from February to April, Statistics Canada reported.
The unemployment rate shot up 5.2 percentage points in April to 13 per cent.
In fact, the April unemployment rate would be 17.8 per cent if those who were laid off, but have not started looking for a job because of COVID-19 lockdowns of their industries, were added to the jobless tally.
“The magnitude of the decline in employment since February (minus 15.7 per cent) far exceeds declines observed in previous labour market downturns,” the report said.
It noted that the 1981-to-1982 recession resulted in a total employment decline of 612,000 (minus 5.4 per cent) over approximately 17 months.
Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said April was a “disaster” for Canada’s job market.
“The April jobs figures were every bit the apocalypse we feared, and we’re only missing the march of the zombies to complete the horror show,” Shenfeld wrote in a research note to clients.
However, many of these job losses are temporary, he added.