The Canadian economy lost 30,600 jobs in July, Statistics Canada announced Friday.
This is the second consecutive month of job losses, after 43,000 jobs lost in June. Economists had expected the economy to make a slight gain of around 15,000 jobs, but instead the pool of jobs has shrunk.
Goods-producing industries actually added about 23,000 jobs during the month, but this relative strength was more than offset by a significant loss of 53,000 jobs in the service sector.
The health care sector was a major drag, as it lost 22,000 jobs. After more than two years of caring for Canadians during a pandemic, burnout and job turnover in the sector are becoming a major problem. More than 10% of all nurses called in sick at least once during the month and more than 20% worked paid overtime to compensate, the data agency said.
Nursing vacancies at the start of 2022 were more than triple the level five years earlier, Statistics Canada said.
“The decline in employment in the health sector has not gone unnoticed, as it is due to voluntary departures rather than layoffs,” said economist Tu Nguyen of the accounting firm and consulting RSM Canada.
“The exodus of exhausted healthcare workers has led to an increase in temporary emergency room closures. This has far-reaching ramifications, [because] when people are not cared for, it leads workers in all sectors to call in sick, to have to take time off to care for sick family members, or even to leave the labor market in more extremes. »
Despite the drop, the unemployment rate remained stable at its all-time high of 4.9%, because while there were fewer jobs, there were also fewer people looking for work.
As of the end of July, the data agency says there were around one million people in Canada officially classified as unemployed, meaning they want a job but don’t have one. Another 426,000 people wanted a job but did not look for one during the month, so they are not officially counted among the unemployed.
The million out of work compares to the 19.5 million Canadians who had some kind of paid work during the month.
The weakness in the Canadian labor market contrasts sharply with that of the United States, where the economy added 528,000 jobs last month. This is twice what economists expected.
While the monthly job count is always volatile, and that’s especially the case during the summer months, Tiago Figueiredo, an economist at Desjardins, says the disappointing number suggests “Canada’s labor market has held back in July”.
“That said, the labor market remains tight and there is room for further weakness in employment as economic growth slows.”
Although the economy has fewer workers today than it did in May, many sectors and employers are reporting that hiring remains strong. The tourism sector may have been hit harder than any other sector by the pandemic, but as demand returns, so does the need for workers.
Laura Pallotta, vice president of Marriott Hotels, says the chain is currently trying to hire up to 1,000 people across the country, even as the overall economic outlook darkens.
“We believe we need to continue to hire positions and roles [because] we see the demand for Canada over the next few years will continue to be strong,” she told CBC News in an interview.
Arvin Nagules, senior vice president at Menzies Aviation, which provides a variety of airport services in Canada and abroad, says his industry is also trying to rapidly increase staffing levels.
He says airlines and airports have hired as much over the past two or three months as they normally would over several years. “It’s not just the airline industry. Everyone is fighting for the same group of people,” he said in an interview.