OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada lost a record-breaking 2.0 million jobs in April while the unemployment rate surged to a near-high 13.0%, official data showed on Friday, showing how much damage coronavirus-related shutdowns have done to the economy.
The numbers were not as bad as markets had feared. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a loss of 4 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18%, up from the 7.8% seen in March, when 1 million jobs were lost.
Most non-essential businesses have been shut since mid-March as officials urge people to stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but in recent weeks, some of the 10 Canadian provinces have started to gradually reopen their economies.
“Almost all (97.0%) of the newly-unemployed were on temporary layoff … indicating that they expected to return to their former employer as the shutdown is relaxed,” Statscan said in a commentary.
The record for the highest unemployment rate since Statscan adopted their current labor force model in January 1976 was the 13.1% seen in December 1982.
(Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; and Nick Zieminski)