The pandemic has resulted in a decline in employment for much of the Canadian population, but even more for recent immigrants.
During the severe economic recession of March and April 2020, the Canadian labor market lost 3 million jobs. From May to July, with the resumption of activity, 1.7 million jobs were regained.
According to a Statistics Canada labor force survey released on August 20, recent immigrants were more likely than the Canadian-born to lose their jobs in March and April. When the pandemic struck, the transition to unemployment increased for all three groups included in the study: immigrants who arrived in Canada in the past 10 years, immigrants who arrived in Canada more than 10 years ago, and those born in Canada.
However, the increase in the rate of people making the transition to unemployment was much larger for recent immigrants, peaking at 17.3% compared to 13.5% for Canadian-born and long-term immigrants in Canada. during April.
Recent immigrant women experienced the greatest increase in the rate of transition to unemployment during the economic downturn. Almost 20% of recent immigrant women employed in March were unemployed in April, compared with 13% of Canadian-born women. This gap narrowed to just 2 percentage points in June and practically disappeared in July.
Factors to higher unemployment rate among recent immigrants
Recent immigrants may find it more difficult to transfer their educational and professional qualifications to the Canadian labor market and to find stable, well-paying jobs. As a result, a greater proportion of recent immigrants hold lower-paying jobs, short-term jobs, and jobs in accommodation and food services.
In February, for example, before the impact of the pandemic, 31% of recent immigrants had been employed for less than a year, compared to 15% of Canadian-born workers. Similarly, in February, 22% of recent immigrants were in low-paying jobs, compared to 12% of Canadian-born workers.
Data shows that recent immigrants tend to hold shorter-duration jobs than their Canadian-born counterparts and that workers in short-term jobs are more likely to be laid off during an economic downturn. The fact that job losses in March and April were heavily concentrated in lower-paying jobs explains why recent immigrants were hit harder by job losses during this period than their Canadian-born counterparts.
The slow Employment rate in low-paying jobs among recent immigrant women
According to the survey, from February 2019 to April 2020, all three groups experienced similar transition rates to work, with recent immigrants even registering slightly higher rates than the Canadian-born in most months.
However, during the period of partial recovery and as the transition to employment began to improve, recent immigrants had lower transition rates than the Canadian-born in May (5%), June (3 %), and July (1%). Recent immigrant women differed the most from their Canadian-born counterparts, especially in May and June (5%), with a slight improvement in July (2%).
For recent immigrant women, these differences with Canadian-born women have become even more pronounced when factors such as age, level of education, and geographic location are taken into account. From April to July, recent immigrant women lagged behind Canadian-born women in employment growth in accommodation and food services (4% versus 72%), although they have experienced similar employment growth rates in other major industries.
At the same time, employment in low-paying jobs grew much more slowly (11%) for recent immigrant women than for Canadian-born women (36%), while their rate of growth in high-paying jobs was comparable.
Canadain labour market recovery
Data released in July and August by Statistics Canada show that the initial recovery in employment in Canada since the lifting of restrictions has been stronger than in previous economic downturns.
According to a recent labor force survey, around 55% of the 3 million jobs lost since April were recovered in July.
Some 419,000 jobs were created in July, an increase of 2.4% from the previous month. This follows a growth rate of 5.8% in June. The results of recent Statistics Canada surveys on employment, payroll, and hours of work show that the economic slowdown due to the coronavirus is rebounding sharply after a significant drop in previous months.