Employment recovering in Canada

Newly-released data on payroll, and earning hours from May show how easing coronavirus-related restrictions is affecting employment in Canada.

Average weekly earnings increased in May, according to the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours. This Statistics Canada survey provides monthly information on payroll employment, earnings and hours worked in Canada. Though it predates the pandemic, it is currently monitoring the impact of coronavirus on Canadian employment along with the Labour Force Survey.

Though the total number of employees on payroll declined 1.8%, the average weekly earnings rose 2% to $1,139 in May. Average weekly earnings are calculated by dividing total weekly earnings by the number of employees.

This gain was matched by a 2% decline in total hours worked in May compared to April. Between February and May there was a 16.9% loss in total hours worked. At the same time, average weekly hours increased slightly, bringing the average hours worked per week to just over 34.

Construction rebounds following Quebec’s early ease of restrictions

Construction increased in payroll employment in my by 3.5% up to 28,400 in May. It was the only sector to see such gains, mainly as a result of more specialty trade contractors.

All gains in construction were seen in Quebec, where residential construction was allowed to restart in mid-April.

Employment in construction at the national level was still down about 20% compared to February.

Average weekly earnings were up 2.6% to $1,315 in the construction sector compared to May 2019.

Job losses slowed in retail

Retail sales rose by 18.7% in May, though they are still 20% below the February level. The increase was partially seen in payroll employment.

Month over month employment losses slowed. In April the retail sector saw a loss of nearly 279,000 compared to May where about 41,800 people lost their jobs. The total hours worked in the retail trade in May rose 2.6% compared to the month before.

Certain retail industries saw payroll employment increases in May. Motor vehicle and parts dealers, and building material and garden equipment supply dealers saw about a 4% increase.

Average weekly earnings in the retail trade sector were $676 in May, up 10.5% compared with the same time last year.

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