Courtesy of Barrie 360/The Canadian Press: Ian MacLennan Feb 23rd, 2022

Ontario’s financial watchdog says that overall, the province’s labour market has rebounded to pre−pandemic levels, but the recovery has been uneven across sectors and regions.

The Financial Accountability Officer released a report today saying Ontario’s labour market performed well in 2021, adding 344,800 jobs and seeing the unemployment rate drop to eight per cent from 9.6 per cent in 2020.

But the FAO says employment among young workers and people in low−wage, customer−facing jobs such as in food service and retail remains below 2019 levels, as does the labour market in 11 of Ontario’s 16 major cities.

Several sectors employing a large share of women reopened in 2021 and Ontario’s female employment rose faster than for male workers, but total female employment last year was still below pre−pandemic levels, with particularly weak recovery among young females.

The report said only five cities of Ontario’s 16 Census Metropolitan Areas saw employment recover to the pre-pandemic annual level (London, Peterborough, Guelph, Toronto and Ottawa-Gatineau).

According to the report, Barrie was the only city to show negative job growth in 2021 among the CMAs (-2.6 per cent), as employment remained slightly below the 2019 level (-2.1 per cent).

Early this year, as some COVID−19 restrictions were reintroduced due to the Omicron variant, the report says 145,700 jobs were lost and the unemployment rate rose more than a full percentage point, from 6.1 per cent in December to 7.3 per cent in January.

But that is expected to quickly rebound as restrictions are lifted this month and next.

Courtesy of the Canadian Press: London was the only CMA to experience employment growth in both 2020 and 2021. Job gains in health care and social assistance, and educational services industries drove this growth, raising total employment in London 11.4 per cent above the 2019 level. Peterborough had the strongest pace (17.7 per cent) of job rebound in 2021 among the CMAs, lifting the city’s employment modestly above the 2019 level. Gains in professional, scientific and technical services helped Guelph employment rise above the pre-pandemic level by 1.3 per cent.

In 2021, jobs rebounded in the province’s two largest CMAs, leaving the employment level just above 2019. Ottawa’s employment gains were driven by public administration and construction, while Toronto’s were driven by higher employment in professional, scientific and technical services, and information, culture and recreation industries.

Despite job growth in 2021, employment in nearly all the other CMAs in Ontario remained below the 2019 level. On a proportional basis, the largest decline in employment over this period occurred in Greater Sudbury (5.6 per cent below 2019) and Brantford (5.1 per cent below 2019). 

Patricia Dent

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