Manitoba lost about 2,900 jobs in May, according to Statistics Canada, as yet another round of restrictions took effect to counter the third wave of COVID-19.
Around 1,700 of those positions were part-time, which mirrors what was seen on a national level.
Canada as a whole shed 68,000 positions, the majority of which were part-time.
Manitoba’s unemployment rate was at 7.2 per cent in May, slightly changed from 7.4 per cent the month before, and a bit better than the national average of 8.2 per cent.
“We are diversified, and that has certainly helped us out through this,” John McCallum, an economics professor at the University of Manitoba, told 680 CJOB.
“A province like Alberta gets hit with a pandemic in the midst of an oil crisis, and they’re not diversified nearly like we are …. we’re going to come out of this very much like Canada comes out of it and when it comes out of it.”
Full-time employment in Manitoba also took a hit in May, dropping 1,200 jobs.
However, the situation is still a significant improvement from the same period last year.
Compared to May 2020, part-time employment is up over 17,000 jobs and full-time employment is up 10,000 jobs.
“These waves come and they’re sort of unexpected,” McCallum continued.
“The one thing I’m sure of is we’re going to come out of this a lot slower than the U.S., but they went a lot deeper into it than we did, and they’ve had vaccines for everyone much longer.”
McCallum says there are many variables at play, and it’s difficult to predict how well Manitoba, or the rest of Canada, is going to recover from the pandemic, which has ravaged the economy, ruined lives, and killed 25,679 Canadians.
“Like how many people are in ICU; you can’t open fully until you deal with those numbers, so it’s more than just vaccinations,” McCallum said.
“This is a really tough situation.”
TD Senior Economist Sri Thanabalasingam told Global News the recovery in part-time work could be particularly slow.
“Given that students were an important segment of the population that left the labour force, they may not quickly return to the labour market as provinces reopen their economies and part-time jobs hiring ramps up,” he said.
While employment gains are expected in the coming months, he described May’s decline as “concerning.”
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said this week a reopening plan would be coming soon, which could at least begin to paint a picture of what the province’s economic recovery will look like.
With files from Nicole Gibillini