According to the Bank of Canada, employment will need to surpass pre-pandemic levels before complete recovery is declared because the population has grown since the start of the crisis.
July was another solid month for the Canadian labour market as the loosening of public health restrictions across the country spurred hiring activity. That said, capacity limits and travel restrictions held back high-touch businesses from operating at full capacity, limiting job gains in July.
Indeed, employment in high-touch services is still well below pre-pandemic levels. Even with gains in July, accommodation and food services employment was nearly 20% below its February 2020 level. It's important to note that July's labour survey was taken during the week of July 11th, and restrictions in some provinces were loosened at the end of that week. So, we could see the recovery continue to strengthen in August.
There are growing headwinds, however. Concerns around the Delta variant are rising, and some countries, harder hit by the virus, are re-imposing restrictions. Canada has not yet been compelled to do so due to low hospitalization levels, but cases are rising. While the impressive vaccination drive should keep hospitalization rates low, health worries could dent consumer and business confidence. Indeed, the economy's path forward will be closely linked to the evolution of the pandemic.
Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres