Statistics Canada released its most recent jobs numbers on Friday, April 9, 2021. The report showed a positive, but likely short-lived, recovery in retail, especially in Ontario.
Employment in retail trade rose by 95,000 (+4.5%) in March 2021, fully recouping the remainder of the losses sustained in January 2021 and bringing employment back to the levels observed before the pandemic in February 2020. Ontario contributed the most to the monthly employment gain. This aligned with increased retail consumer spending in March compared to February.
The release was based on a mid-March survey (March 14-20, 2021) which means that it was after most second wave lockdown orders had been lifted and before the recent shutdowns to combat the third wave were implemented. Jobs numbers for April 2021 will be released in early May and we expect that they will reveal whether this brief recovery for retail jobs was short-lived, given the current April shutdowns.
Beyond retail, total employment rose 303,000 (+1.6%) in March and was within 1.5% of its pre-COVID February 2020 level. The overall unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 7.5%, the lowest level since February 2020.