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

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

An aerial photograph captures snowmobile tracks in the Cameron Ridge area earlier this year, which is closed to snowmobilers. The closures are in place to protect sensitive caribou herds. (Conservation Officer Service photo)
Snowmobilers fined for operating in closed caribou habitat near Likely, B.C.

The investigation revealed they had spent several hours in the closure leaving extensive tracks

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read