Most of Canada’s employment statistics in September returned to pre-pandemic levels, clear good news of a recovery, according to data released by Statistics Canada on Friday.
Canada added an encouraging 157,000 jobs in September, bringing its total employment to just over the February 2020 level. In a similar fashion, the labor force participation rate and employment among core-aged men and women all returned to at least February 2020 levels.
Canada’s unemployment rate fell for the fourth consecutive month to 6.9%, down from 7.1% in August, the lowest since the onset of the pandemic. With the number of unemployed people relatively unchanged, the fall in the unemployment rate stems from a large number of people rejoining the labor force.
The strongest gains came from the service-producing sector, notably in public administration (3.5%); information, culture, and recreation (4.4%); professional services (1.7%); and finance and real estate (2.1%).
It is no surprise that—save for information, culture, and recreation—the industries making great strides have one thing in common: the possibility for employees to work from home with flexible hours. Sectors offering flexible work have been able to grow the most and attract workers throughout the pandemic.
In a hot labor market, with fundamental shifts in the dynamics between employees and employers, now combined with the spread of the coronavirus delta variant, workers flocked toward jobs that offer flexibility.
Employment in accommodation and food services predictably fell by the most from August among industries as back-to-school season began and the end of patio season dampened demand for restaurant dining.
A vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors is now in effect, and will also be in effect later for the air, rail, and marine transportation sector. While the mandate may prompt some termination, the net effect on the labor force will likely be negligible given the high vaccination rate among Canadians.
More likely, the labor market will continue to grow, especially in sectors in which working from home is quickly becoming the norm.
In a rapidly changing labor market with fundamental shifts, Canada welcomes this noteworthy landmark of employment returning to its pre-pandemic level.
While some might temporarily seek work arrangements to adapt to the changing landscape stemming from the delta variant, the flexible work model is here to stay.