Canada lost almost two million jobs during the month of April, a record high, as the impact of COVID-19 on the economy made itself known.
Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey data released Friday brings the total number of jobs lost during the crisis to more than three million.
The closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 has devastated the economy and forced businesses to shutter temporarily.
Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate soared to 13 per cent as the full force of the pandemic hit, compared with 7.8 per cent in March.
Economists on average had expected the loss of four million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Since comparable data became available in 1976, the April unemployment rate was second-highest only to December 1982, when it reached 13.1 per cent.
Fewer hours for many who are still working
Job losses are not the only way the COVID-19 crisis has impacted employment. In addition to those who are now out of work, the number of people who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours because of the pandemic increased by 2.5 million from February to April.
That means the cumulative effect of the economic shutdown — people both no longer employed or working far less — was a staggering 5.5 million as of the week of April 12.