P.E.I. women's unemployment climbs again, rate down for men

The unemployment rate rose sharply on P.E.I. in June, and all on the backs of women.

'This is a priority for all of my cabinet colleagues'

More jobs were added to the P.E.I. economy in June, but even more people were out competing for those jobs. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The unemployment rate rose sharply on P.E.I. in June, and all on the backs of women.

Statistics Canada released the Labour Force Survey for June Friday morning. The unemployment rate for P.E.I. climbed to 15.2 per cent from 13.9 per cent in May.

The unemployment rate for men, however, actually fell, from 12.1 to 11.2 per cent. For women it rose from 15.8 to 19.4 per cent.

In light of the news, Green MLA Lynne Lund rose in question period to ask Natalie Jameson, the minister responsible for the status of women, what her vision was to ensure gender equality is prioritized as the provincial economy emerges from the pandemic.

"This is a priority for all of my cabinet colleagues and I'm very much looking to ensure that it remains so," Jameson responded.

In May, Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay said he was "mortified" by the disparity between men and women in employment. An email sent Friday morning to the department asking what the government has done to address the issue has not yet been answered.

"Women continue to lag behind men in employment prospects," said UPEI economist Jim Sentance.

"Overall they seem to have come back looking for work more strongly than men, but unemployment rates for women continue to be multiple times higher than February or last year, while for men it's more or less back close to normal."

Nationally, the unemployment rate for women is just five per cent higher than the one for men, 12.7 per cent for women and 12.1 per cent for men.

Almost 40% of young women unemployed

The difference is especially pronounced for youth, who as a group are hit harder.

"When we look at the age-group breakdown, the youngest cohort, age 15-24, is the most affected with the unemployment rate at a staggering 29.2 per cent," said UPEI economist George Jia.

"Things look even worse for the females among the 15-24 age group, where 22 per cent of full-time jobs were lost over the last month."

That led to an unemployment rate for young women that was almost double the rate for young men, at 38.8 versus 20 per cent.

Workforce growth outpacing job growth

The unemployment rate rose despite another 1,700 jobs being created.

More than twice as many people, 3,800, joined the workforce in June.

At the height of the pandemic in April, P.E.I. had the lowest unemployment rate in the country, due largely to a precipitous drop in the number of people looking for work. In May, it was about the same as the national average.

In June, it was well above the 12.3 per cent national unemployment rate. Only Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta had higher unemployment rates than P.E.I.

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Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. Kevin has a specialty in data journalism, and how statistics relate to the changing lives of Islanders. He has a BSc and a BA from Dalhousie University, and studied journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown. You can reach him at