Islanders pour back into labour market as jobs start to reappear

Prince Edward Islanders were busy looking for work in May as jobs started to return to the P.E.I. economy.

Unemployment rate close to national average

The Labour Market Survey was done before May 22, when stores on P.E.I. reopened. (Brian McInnis)

Prince Edward Islanders were busy looking for work in May as jobs started to return to the P.E.I. economy.

Statistics Canada released the Labour Force Survey for May Friday morning.

The Island economy added 2,600 jobs last month, suggesting the effects of pandemic shutdown on the economy may have been at its worst in April.

"In terms of jobs lost we did bottom out in April," said UPEI economist Jim Sentance in an email to CBC News.

"Employment is up in May in both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted terms."

Close to 6,000 rejoin workforce in May

The unemployment rate, however, soared as Islanders returned to the workforce in droves.

In April there were just 77,700 Islanders working or looking for work, almost 10,000 fewer than the pre-pandemic days of February. Close to 6,000 rejoined the workforce in May, taking it up to 83,500.

That was far more than the increase in jobs available, so the unemployment rate jumped up 3.1 percentage points to 13.9. P.E.I. had the lowest unemployment rate in the country in April, and it still compared favourably with the 13.7 national rate in May.

Comparing pre-pandemic February to May, P.E.I. appears to be doing better on the jobs front than the country as a whole.

The number of jobs in Canada is down 14.2 per cent, and 10.8 per cent on P.E.I. The unemployment rate in Canada is up 145 per cent, and a relatively low 74 per cent on the Island.

Sentance noted that the participation rate is still below normal, meaning there are Islanders who would normally be working or looking for work who are still not ready to return to the labour market.

The Labour Force Survey was done May 10-16, before the May 22 reopening of retail stores on P.E.I. Retail is the Island's largest employer.

All reported numbers are seasonally adjusted, taking into account regular changes in job availability.

More from CBC P.E.I.

About the Author

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.