A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Statistics Canada is expected to release its snapshot of the Canadian job market for December this morning. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Statistics Canada is expected to release its snapshot of the Canadian job market for December this morning. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canadian economy lost 63,000 jobs in Dec., first decline since April

Statistics Canada said Friday the economy lost 63,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate edged up to 8.6%

Canada posted its first monthly decline in jobs since April amid tightened public health restrictions in December, and economists warn the losses are likely to continue in January as the number of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Statistics Canada said Friday the economy lost 63,000 jobs in December while the unemployment rate edged up to 8.6 per cent compared with 8.5 per cent in November.

“Due to both the continuing rise in virus cases to open the new year and the further curtailments of activity since the last survey, another month of job losses could be on the horizon in January,” CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes said.

“The weak jobs report, combined with the recent appreciation of the Canadian dollar, will put pressure on the Bank of Canada to ease monetary policy further.”

Statistics Canada said its report was a snapshot of labour market conditions for the week of Dec. 6 to 12. It noted that additional public health measures were put in place in many provinces after that period and would likely to be reflected in its January labour force survey results.

Several provinces have also further extended COVID-19 restrictions as public health officials blamed holiday gatherings for a rise in infections.

TD Bank senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said the resurgence of the virus is hitting Canada hard.

“Sharp increases in caseloads and hospitalizations are leaving provinces with little choice but to impose or prolong restrictions on an economy that is but a shadow of itself,” Thanabalasingam wrote in a report.

“It will be a rocky road for the Canadian economy until vaccines can be widely distributed and normal life can resume.”

Mendes noted that when the restrictions began to ease last spring and summer, the rebound in the economy came quickly.

“The good news is that last summer we saw a pretty sharp snapback at a time when virus cases were low and public health restrictions were eased, so that should give people some optimism that after this rough patch is hopefully behind us, the economy can bounce back quite well in the short-term,” he said.

The job losses in December ended a streak of monthly job gains that began in May, when initial restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic began to ease.

Full-time employment in December rose by 36,500, but there was a loss of 99,000 part-time jobs.

Statistics Canada said that total hours worked fell for the first time since April as they declined 0.3 per cent in December.

By April last year the COVID-19 economic shutdown had directly affected 5.5 million Canadian workers, including 3.0 million who had lost their job and 2.5 million who were employed but had experienced COVID-related absences from work.

The number affected was 1.1 million in December, including a drop in employment of 636,000 since February and 488,000 more Canadians who were employed but working less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID.

December employment fell in industries most directly affected by the new and continuing public health measures.

The number of jobs in the services-producing side of the economy fell for the first time since April as it lost a total of 74,000 in December. The goods-producing sector gained 11,300 jobs.

The accommodation and food services industry lost 56,700 jobs for the month, while the “other services” category, which includes hair salons, laundry services and other areas affected by public health measures, lost 30,800. The information, culture and recreation group lost 18,800.

However, the manufacturing sector gained 15,000 jobs in December, driven by an increase in Ontario.

The share of Canadians working from home was 28.6 per cent in December.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says economists on average had expected the report to show a loss of 27,500 jobs for December. The unemployment rate was expected to be 8.6 per cent.

Craig Wong, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Flowers poke through the snow in Courtenay as the area got a taste of winter weather this week. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Valley not out of the winter woods quite yet: meteorologist

“It’s winter; we’ve got to get through it together.”

The Village of Cumberland is moving ahead on bringing in possible speed limit reductions. Record file photo
Cumberland council moves on slower speed zones

Mayor says goal is to have ‘blanket zone’ in place by summer

Wind turbines are seen on a dike near Urk, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. A group of scientists, including five Nobel laureates, called Friday for more action to adapt the world to the effects of climate change, drawing comparisons with the faltering response to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of a major online conference on climate adaptation starting Monday and hosted by the Netherlands. (AP Photo / Peter Dejong)
Comox Valley groups host course on actively implementing solutions to climate change

The Sustainable Action group for the Environment (SAGE) and the Comox Valley… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox set to apply for two infrastructure grants

Sanitary sewer, sidewalk extension in the town’s plans

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read