More than three million Canadians have lost their job in March and April amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But even those who continue to work are feeling significant financial ripple effects from the health emergency, a new Ipsos poll suggests.
The survey, conducted between May 8 and 11 by Ipsos exclusively for Global News, finds that 16 per cent — or nearly two in 10 — Canadians are working on reduced pay.
Of those, 10 per cent are making less because they are working fewer hours, while six per cent have seen their pay shrink even as they keep up their regular hours.
“The economy overall is taking a really big hit,” said Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada, the online job listing site.
It isn’t just about shutdowns and layoffs, Bernard added. Even for areas of the economy that are still in operation, business has often dropped dramatically, he added.
As a result, many businesses are probably taking steps to curtail costs, including trimming hours and pay, Bernard said.
Some 2.5 million Canadians who still had jobs worked less than half their regular hours between February and April for reasons related to COVID-19, data from Statistics Canada show.
But in terms of pay cuts, the Ipsos survey results provide insight into an aspect of the labour market disruption for which economists don’t yet have much data.
When it comes to tracking how much Canadians are getting paid, StatCan’s better-known job tally, the Labour Force Survey, is “not a great tool” to track the kind of short-term, sudden shocks we’ve seen in the job market in the past couple of months, said Bernard.
Economists have yet to set eyes on the March numbers from another StatCan survey that’s widely regarded as a better gauge of near-term pay trends, Bernard said.
Still, a recent survey by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce revealed a significant share of businesses had changed compensation due to the health emergency, Bernard noted.
The data shows 13 per cent of companies reduced pay, 11 per cent froze salaries or wages, and 13 per cent froze bonus payments or delayed compensation.
Younger Canadians hit hardest
Global News’ Ipsos poll also finds young Canadians are bearing the brunt of the labour market upheaval, with nearly half in that age group saying they’ve felt the impact of the disruptions.
Among those aged 18 to 34, 48 per cent say they’ve been affected by layoffs, pay reduction or small business closures. That compares to 40 per cent among 35 to 54 year olds, and 19 per cent among Canadians aged 55 and over.
Two factors help explain why the under-35 have fared worst in the current crisis so far, Bernard said.
First, young workers are more likely to work in the accommodation and food services sector, which has suffered crushing job losses as governments shut international borders and forced partial lockdown in an effort to stem the contagion.
StatCan numbers indicate employment in the sector has plunged by about 50 per cent over the course of March and April.
Another likely factor is that companies often lay off recent hires first, and younger workers are more likely to be relatively new on the job, Bernard said.
Canadians in the Prairies more likely to say government help isn’t enough
While the economic ripple effects of the pandemic have wreaked havoc on the labour market, more than half (53 per cent) of Canadians who have been laid off or have had to close shop said they are receiving enough emergency financial support from the government to ride out the crisis.
That sentiment, however, is less common in the Prairies. Nearly a quarter of Alberta and 20 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba said they don’t think the government’s financial lifeline will be enough.
One possible explanation is that in Alberta and Saskatchewan’s average weekly earnings are higher than the national average, Bernard said. It may be that emergency benefits for many in the region replace a smaller share of regular income compared to other provinces with lower average earnings, he added.
That, however, does not hold in Manitoba, where average earnings are slightly below the Canadian average.
Another factor may be that the Prairies were already facing job market woes even before the COVID-19 crisis, Bernard said.
“Their labour markets were not humming along like other parts of the country heading into this.”
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.”
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted between May 8 and 11. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.