Another special issue of Focus on Rural Ontario entitled COVID-19 Impact on Rural Employment: Ontario in the Canadian context up to June 2020 shows rural employment levels are continuing to improve overall while particular sectors are still hard hit and there is still a significant gap remaining.
Data in the fact sheet highlights employment change in rural Ontario with a comparison to last year in the same month, contrasted with large urban centres and with the impact on rural employment in other provinces. This special issue is a follow-up to earlier special issues with data on employment in April, 2020 and May, 2020. The recent enumeration of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey took place in the 3rd week of June.
Governments are easing the restrictions placed on society that forced the closure of many businesses and which had large negative impacts on employment in both rural and urban areas. Ontario like many other places is in the process of staged reopening which began in mid-May. Apart from the Maritime provinces and Manitoba, rural Ontario now has a smaller year over year COVID 19 employment gap (-5.1 %) than rural areas in other provinces such as Quebec, BC and Alberta. This is in part because the precipitous COVID employment drop was less in rural Ontario than in some other provinces and in other cases because the rebound has been greater than in other provinces.
Within Ontario from May to June, 2020, rural employment increased by 7.6% compared to a 6.3% increase in urban areas. By this measure, rural labour markets were closing the COVID-19 employment gap at a somewhat quicker pace, compared to the pace of employment growth in Ontario’s urban labour markets.
In this report, we use the same month in the previous year (i.e., in 2019) to calculate the size of the COVID-19 employment impact (or employment gap). In June, the rural employment gap was less than the COVID-19 impact in urban areas (-5.1% and -9.2%, respectively).
Large rural employment gaps remained in the transportation and warehousing sector (-36%), in the accommodation and food services sector (-28%), in the professional, scientific and technical services sector (-21%) and in agriculture (-21%). However, in other sectors, the calculated COVID-19 employment gap has closed. Examples include the forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas sector, the manufacturing sector, the other (personal) services sector and the public administration sector. Several sectors were relatively spared the COVID job losses. No noticeable gap occurred in the period from March to June in the construction sector or the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing sector.
The Covid-19 employment gap for females has been larger than the gap for males in both urban and rural areas during the period from March to June, 2020. Thus, there is evidence of a “SHE-cession” in both rural and urban areas of Ontario. Interestingly, female employment in the core working-age group (25 to 54 years of age) in rural Ontario is now showing no COVID-19 employment impact (i.e., employment levels in May and June, 2020 were (slightly) higher than in May and June, 2019).
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