The gradual easing of restrictions and the reopening of the economy continued to present both opportunities and challenges for employers and workers.
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in May and June 2020, the initial recovery of overall Canadian employment—to within 9.2% of pre-COVID levels—has been sharper than in previous downturns, when recovery to pre-downturn employment has taken from two to five years. By the week of June 14 to June 20, 2020 employment in retail had risen to 88.7% of the February 2020 level. For June 2020 overall, retail employment rose by 184,000 people.
While an optimistic sign, this retail employment rebound should be interpreted in the context of the existence of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, which has helped retailers keep employees on payroll despite the difficult times the sector is experiencing.