Despite bleak job losses, Manitoba possesses Canada's sunniest pandemic employment picture


The loss of jobs over the past two months in Manitoba has created the most bleak employment picture since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Nonetheless, Manitoba is doing better than anywhere else in Canada based on key labour statistics.

Between February and April, the province lost nearly 84,900 jobs, most of them at retail stores, wholesalers, restaurants and hotels, Statistics Canada reported Friday as part of its monthly labour survey.

That 84,900 figure includes Manitobans who are unemployed as well as those no longer considered part of the workforce because they're unable to look for work — either because their industries don't exist at the moment or they must stay home to care for kids or other dependents.

Economists used the term "effective unemployment" to describe the number of conventionally unemployed workers plus former workers who can't even look for jobs due to the pandemic.

Effective unemployment was 23 per cent in April in Manitoba, lower than in any other province.

Effective unemployment paints a more complete picture than unemployment on its own, said Trevor Tombe, a University of Calgary economist.

"Because there are many people who are not counted as technically part of the labour force because they're out of work and not looking, we need a broader measure to truly get a sense of scale here," Tombe said in an interview.

While there's nothing positive to be gleaned from the knowledge one in four working-age Manitobans were forced on to the sidelines in April, every other province fared worse.