Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia lost 50,000 jobs in April amid COVID-19

Fifty thousand jobs were lost in Nova Scotia in April, reflecting the devastating economic impact of the first full month of public health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

New Statistics Canada data shows the economic hit from public health restrictions

Thousands of people have been thrown out of work after businesses were forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Fifty thousand jobs were lost in Nova Scotia in April, reflecting the devastating economic impact of the first full month of public health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Full-time employment plummeted in the province by 38,000 positions in April, while there were 11,800 fewer part-time jobs, according to the Statistics Canada monthly Labour Force Survey released Friday.

The unemployment rate rose to 12 per cent from nine per cent in March. The dismal data picks up where March left off, when Nova Scotia shed 25,000 jobs compared to February.

Four out of five jobs lost in April were in the services sector, where 13,000 wholesale and retail trade jobs disappeared. Accommodation and food services lost 11,000 jobs.

Construction and manufacturing accounted for almost all of the jobs lost in the goods-production side of the provincial economy. Employment in each fell by 4,700 jobs.

"We're not surprised," said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

"These job numbers were at the height of this. They are more reflective of what's happening. It's why we are working diligently with our private sector partners to find a safe way to open up our economy that gets people back to work in a timely manner."

Gordon Stewart of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia calls the economic situation in his industry "brutal." And it's not clear how many people will be hired back whenever restaurants reopen.

"The rough prediction is that when we open our doors we're going to do somewhere between 10 and 50 per cent of what we normally would do at that same time period last year," he said. "So that's substantially lower, which means a direct impact on that labour pool."

Duncan Williams, president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, said there's no doubt COVID-19 has had an impact, "but we haven't seen huge drops."

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said the job numbers weren't surprising. (CBC)

"Matter of fact, there's a lot of work that's about to hit the streets, especially from the public procurement side of things. So I'm hoping those will start to reverse themselves fairly quickly," he said.

Earlier this week, the construction association began surveying members about how COVID-19 is affecting their business.

"Early indicators are really around, you know, making sure that labour is feeling comfortable showing up for work and that employers are practising good habits around making sure that safety measures are in place," he said.

In Halifax, 12,500 jobs were lost compared to March, with the unemployment rate rising from 6.8 to 8.9 per cent.

Statistics Canada said the results released Friday reflect labour market conditions during the week of April 12 to April 18.

By then, the COVID-19 economic shutdown had been fully implemented across Canada.

Following a drop of over one million in March, employment in Canada fell by nearly two million in April, a decline Statistics Canada said is unprecedented.

now