Ontario’s labour market rebounds to pre-pandemic levels but recovery uneven: report

The window of Aroma Espresso Bar at at CF Shops at Don Mills, in Toronto on Dec. 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin

TORONTO — Ontario’s financial watchdog says that overall, the province’s labour market has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, but the recovery has been uneven across sectors and regions.

The Financial Accountability Officer released a report today saying Ontario’s labour market performed well in 2021, adding 344,800 jobs and seeing the unemployment rate drop to eight per cent from 9.6 per cent in 2020.

But the FAO says employment among young workers and people in low-wage, customer-facing jobs such as in food service and retail remains below 2019 levels, as does the labour market in 11 of Ontario’s 16 major cities.

Several sectors employing a large share of women reopened in 2021 and Ontario’s female employment rose faster than for male workers, but total female employment last year was still below pre-pandemic levels, with particularly weak recovery among young females.

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Early this year, as some COVID-19 restrictions were reintroduced due to the Omicron variant, the report says 145,700 jobs were lost and the unemployment rate rose more than a full percentage point, from 6.1 per cent in December to 7.3 per cent in January.

But that is expected to quickly rebound as restrictions are lifted this month and next.

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