29,000 Manitobans returned to work last month as economy rebounds from pandemic
Unemployment rate down to 10.1%, now the second-best in the country
Manitoba is seeing a faster economic rebound from the pandemic than many other Canadian provinces, new figures from Statistics Canada show.
The latest labour force survey from Statistics Canada, released Friday, says 28,900 more Manitobans were employed in June than in May, when 13,100 jobs were restored.
The unemployment rate dropped one percentage point to 10.1 per cent in June, giving the province the second-lowest rate in Canada.
And among Manitoba youth, the unemployment rate slipped 3.5 percentage points to 19.3 per cent — the lowest in the country.
"We think that's a positive step forward," Finance Minister Scott Fielding said at a news conference Friday to celebrate the improving job picture.
"I do want to be perfectly clear that we know there's far too many Manitobans that will still be unemployed and need supports," Fielding said, estimating 90,000 jobs were shed in the pandemic.
5.2% before pandemic
Manitoba's unemployment rate was as low as 5.2 per cent in February, before a series of escalating business closures to stop the spread of COVID-19. More jobs have been restored as businesses open their doors again.
Statistics Canada also says the provincial labour force grew by 23,600 people in June.
Manitoba had a 13.3 per cent increase in part-time jobs last month, up 14,200, while the number of full-time positions increased by 14,800.
Fielding touted the government's aid programs for restoring the economy, and said the government is willing to further tweak its support programs if money is unspent.
"If there's an ability to move some of those [allocated] dollars around, we'll absolutely want to do that to support Manitobans," he said.
The province has budgeted $120 million toward wage subsidy programs, but only a fraction of that cash has been spent thus far.
The Opposition New Democrats say the economy is bouncing back because of low COVID-19 case counts, not because of the Progressive Conservative government's aid programs.
"Imagine if all those people didn't lose their jobs, or didn't have their paycheques cut," he said. "It's only by accident that we're doing this well."
The Manitoba Liberals say the employment numbers don't truly indicate how many people are struggling, considering more than 246,000 Manitobans have used Canada's emergency benefit payments during the pandemic.
"Unemployment and the economy would both be better if the PCs hadn't gone out of their way to demand layoffs," Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said in a statement.
Total employment in Manitoba in June was 92.8 per cent of what it was in pre-pandemic February, Statistics Canada said.
In Winnipeg, the unemployment rate actually increased in June to 11.7 per cent, from 10.3 per cent in May, according to the Statistics Canada labour force survey.
But Casandra Woolever will soon be among the Winnipeggers returning to the employed ranks.
Before the pandemic, the single mother was running a home-based daycare and turning vintage wool blankets into Métis-inspired clothing on the side.
But a lot has happened since: Woolever couldn't continue operating her daycare when she was forced to move, and then she needed daycare to take care of her kids so she could run her clothing business full-time.
Woolever said that will change as of Monday, when her children head off to daycare and her business, Metis Branded, can operate full-time.
She isn't without fear, however, as she returns.
"I'm excited to start my company," the mother of two said, "but at the same time, I'm so nervous because I don't know the logistics of how everything is for businesses right now.
"How many people are interested in purchasing from small businesses when everything gets back up?"
Jobs gained in restaurants, hotels
Of the 28,900 jobs added in Manitoba in June, 5,500 positions were in the accommodation and food services sector, which benefited from restaurants serving customers inside their dining areas again.
The wholesale and retail trade sector gained 5,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the province lost 1,200 jobs in agriculture and 1,000 in educational services.
Across the country, nearly one million jobs were gained last month as businesses began reopening in a large scale.
But Statistics Canada reported that despite the improvement, there are still 1.8 million fewer jobs in the country today than there were in February.
With files from Caitlyn Gowriluk