‘Big jump’ in Manitoba unemployment rate shows slow economic recovery, expert says

Manitoba’s unemployment rate has gone up again, according to a Statistics Canada report released Friday.

The province ended the year with an 8.2 per cent unemployment rate — numbers which are not surprising, says University of Manitoba economics professor Fletcher Baragar.

Read more: Manitoba’s level red COVID-19 restrictions reflected in latest employment numbers

“Manitoba’s unemployment numbers took a pretty big jump,” he says. “We lost something like 6,600 jobs in a period of 30 days from mid-November to mid-December and that was on the heels of losing about 18,000 jobs the month before.”

The statistics are discouraging, however, Baragar says it could be worse.

“A lot of businesses have found ways to manage or cope with the new restrictions, and I think that’s why we haven’t seen as large a drop during this round of restrictions compared to last spring.”

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Baragar adds that Manitoba is still better off than many other provinces — the national unemployment rate was 8.6 per cent.

As of StatCan’s latest count in December, 1.1 million Canadian workers had either lost their job or were working on reduced hours, compared to 5.5 million in April. But the state of Canada’s labour market will likely get worse before it gets better.

Read more: December lockdown was ‘the last straw.’ Job numbers show impact of new COVID-19 restrictions

Manitoba is essentially back to square one when it comes to economic recovery from the pandemic, Baragar said.

“Eight per cent is where we were back in July when we were just picking up during the recovery,” said Baragar, “the ground that was gained through the summer and early fall has basically been lost.”

–With files from Erica Alini

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