A worker smooths concrete at a housing development in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

A worker smooths concrete at a housing development in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Canada’s unemployment rate rose in January to highest level since August

The nation’s economy lost almost 213,000 jobs in January alone

Statistics Canada says the economy lost almost 213,000 jobs in January as employment fell to the lowest level since August last year, wiping out the gains made in the fall.

The unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 9.4 per cent, the highest rate since August.

Financial data firm Refinitiv says the average economist estimate was for a loss of 47,500 jobs in January and an unemployment rate of 8.9 per cent.

The losses were almost entirely concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, and mostly in the retail sector as lockdowns and restrictions closed many businesses.

Employment declines were heavy in the services sector and part-time work fuelling the largest monthly decline since April when some two million jobs were lost.

Statistics Canada says the losses in January now put the country 858,300 jobs, or 4.5 per cent, short of employment levels from last February just before the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unemployment rate would have been 12 per cent in January had Statistics Canada included in its calculations Canadians who wanted to work but didn’t search for a job.

RELATED: Canada’s economy likely suffered its worst year on record, shrank by 5%: StatsCan

Losses in January marked a second straight month that the labour market contracted after 63,000 positions disappeared in December to break a streak of monthly gains that began in May 2020.

January’s employment figures show the “continuing challenge of balancing economic activity with the need to protect public health,” Statistics Canada notes in the report, and how restrictions hit specific sectors and groups of workers harder than others.

Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says today’s “unfortunately bleak” jobs report points to a need to find a new way to manage the pandemic.

“We simply cannot afford to be in a holding pattern until vaccines arrive,” she says.

“We need new strategies to manage the pandemic. The economic costs may very well damage Canada’s economy and structurally alter our labour market in ways that may not easily be repaired.”

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Canadian economy lost 63,000 jobs in Dec., first decline since April

Jobs

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Penticton’s Law Courts.	(File)
Penticton beach attacker to serve two more years behind bars

Thomas Kruger-Allen was sentenced in a Penticton court on Friday

Premier John Horgan looks on during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Premier touches on protest, housing controversy in Penticton

Protesters have said they plan to go on despite police warning

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is offering home compost bins at reduced prices until March 25. (Contributed)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen offers compost bins at wholesale costs

Pricing offer at participating stores in place until March 25

About 50 people gathered Friday, March 5, 2021 in Penticton to protest city council’s decision to close a temporary winter shelter. (Jesse Day - Western News)
WATCH: Protest over Penticton shelter draws large crowd

People are gathering in Gyro Park to protest the closure of a winter shelter

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Most Read