Ottawa: Canada added 290,000 jobs in May, a 1.8 percent rise, the government statistical agency said on Friday, as restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus were eased and businesses started reopening.
But the jobless rate rose 0.7 percent to a record 13.7 percent as more Canadians looked for work, said Statistics Canada.
The figure is more than double the unemployment rate prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown.
The three million jobs lost from February to April, however, were mostly temporary layoffs, and those newly unemployed Canadians expected to return to their jobs within six months, according to the government agency.
In May, as restrictions gradually began to ease in various parts of the country, employment rebounded more strongly in the goods-producing sector (+165,000) than in the services-producing sector (+125,000).
About 4.9 million Canadians continued working from home.
“The surprisingly positive readings on employment paint a more optimistic picture of the early part of the recovery, but there´s still a long road back,” commented CIBC analyst Royce Mendes, noting that the gains represented only 10 percent of the pandemic related jobs shed.
Desjardin´s chief economist Benoit Durocher also welcomed the “good news for the Canadian economy.”
The jobs data, he said, “suggests that the worst is behind us and that the slow recovery started in May.”
The two economists, however, warned that the rally will be long and arduous amid a gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions and reopening of the economy.
Statistics Canada suggested there would be both pitfalls and bright spots ahead.
“For employers, this includes adapting workplaces while adjusting to disruptions in global supply chains and uncertainties in consumer demand,” it said.
“For workers, the challenges vary, from returning to a previous employer, to looking for a new job, adapting to new ways of working, or making child care arrangements.”
The data showed Quebec province — the hardest-hit in Canada by the pandemic — accounted for 80 percent of the new jobs.
Ontario, the second-hardest-hit and the nation´s economic hub, meanwhile, continued to shed jobs.