In the News
Labour Force Survey, January 2022
Significant Job Loss During Month of January
Sudden unemployment disrupts the lives of workers causing real insecurity, hardship and stress. The loss of income and hassle to qualify for unemployment benefits and find a new job generate havoc in the lives of workers. These represent attacks on the physical and mental well-being of members of the working class and are yet another reason to fight for a new direction for the economy that meets the needs and rights of all including unconditional security of employment and income under all circumstances.
The number of employed workers across Canada fell by 200,000 to 19,176,000 during the first month of the year 2022. The unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points to 6.5 per cent. The entire decline was among private sector employees.
The total number of workers officially considered unemployed increased by 106,000 (+8.6 per cent) to 1.34 million. To be considered officially unemployed a worker must be actively searching for employment during the period of the survey.
StatCan writes, “January employment declines were driven by Ontario and Quebec, and accommodation and food services was the hardest-hit industry. Youth and core-aged women, who are more likely than other demographic groups to work in industries affected by the public health measures in place in January, saw the largest impacts.
“The number of people who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours rose by 620,000 (+66.1 per cent) in January, the largest increase since March 2020. Total hours worked fell 2.2 per cent after being at pre-COVID levels in November and December 2021.”
Services-producing industries lost 223,000 with the largest losses in accommodation and food services (-113,000), information, culture and recreation (-48,000) and retail trade (-26,000). The goods-producing sector saw employment rise by 23,000 jobs. Overall employment declined in Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
The decline in employment of 200,000 people included 117,000 part-time workers and 83,000 working full time. Youth were particularly hard hit with a loss of 93,000 part-time and 46,000 full-time jobs. The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 24 rose 2.5 percentage points to 13.6 per cent.
Youth saw notable declines in both part-time work (-93,000; -7.1 per cent) and full-time work (-46,000; -3.5 per cent). Employment declines were similar for teenagers (aged 15 to 19) and for youth in their early 20s (aged 20 to 24), as well as for both young men and young women. The employment decline among youth in January brought their overall employment rate down 3.2 percentage points to 55.4 per cent. (Note: Statcan defines employment rate as the number of employed people as a percentage of the population aged 15 and older. The rate for a particular group (for example, youths aged 15 to 24) is the number employed in that group as a percentage of the population for that group.)
Women aged 25 to 54 also saw an increase in their unemployment rate (+0.6 percentage points to 5.3 per cent). Part-time employment fell among women in the core working ages of 25 to 54 by 43,000 jobs. Employment also fell among women in the core working ages of 25 to 54 in January, entirely in part-time work (-43,000; -4.3 per cent).
Ten per cent of employees were absent from their job due to illness or disability during the month. Statcan writes: “Absences from work due to illness or disability — that is, for any short- or long-term health-related reason — tend to follow a seasonal pattern, and typically peak in the winter. However, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spread across the country, absences due to illness or disability reached record highs in January.
“In the health care and social assistance industry, which typically has one of the highest proportions of employees absent due to illness and disability, absences in January 2022 (13.3 per cent) exceeded the January 2017-to-2019 average by 3.4 percentage points (not seasonally adjusted).
“Almost all other industries had higher-than-average absences due to illness or disability in January 2022, with the exception of the educational services, public administration, and utilities industries, where absences were slightly below typical levels. Schools in most jurisdictions were providing online learning during the January 2022 reference week.”
“Absences due to illness and disability exceeded typical January levels by 5.6 percentage points in accommodation and food services (10.2 per cent), and by 5.4 percentage points in retail trade (11.7 per cent), two industries where a large proportion of jobs require close proximity to others.”
The labour force participation rate among the population aged 15 years and older fell 0.4 percentage points to 65.0 per cent in January. (StatCan defines the participation rate as the number of employed and unemployed people as a percentage of the population aged 15 and older.)
(Workers’ Forum, posted February 9, 2022)