Labour Force Survey Monthly

Labour Force Survey, May 2020

released June 5, 2020

Statistics Canada is closely monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus) on the Canadian labour market. From February to April, 5.5 million Canadian workers were affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. In May, some jurisdictions began easing restrictions, allowing some non-essential businesses to re-open. This resulted in increased employment and more people began looking for work once again. 


The data in this release correspond to the reference period of May 10 to 16. PEI entered Phase 1 of relaxing public health measures on May 1 and Phase 2 began on May 22.


For more information on survey enhancements, as well as national and provincial May 2020 results, please refer to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey release at:


A supplementary analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the May 2020 labour force for PEI follows the regular monthly report.

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

May 2020 13.7 16.3 13.9 13.6 12.8 13.7 13.6 11.2 12.5 15.5 13.4
April 2020 13.0 16.0 10.8 12.0 13.2 17.0 11.3 11.4 11.3 13.4 11.5
May 2019 5.4 12.5 9.0 6.7 7.4 5.0 5.2 5.1 5.2 6.7 4.4
Year-over-Year change (pp) 8.3 3.8 4.9 6.9 5.4 8.7 8.4 6.1 7.3 8.8 9.0
Monthly change (pp) 0.7 0.3 3.1 1.6 -0.4 -3.3 2.3 -0.2 1.2 2.1 1.9


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 13.9 per cent in May 2020. This is up 3.1 percentage points from last month and up 4.9 percentage points from May 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in May totaled 71,900, a decrease of 5,400 from one year ago and up by 2,600 from April 2020. The annual decrease was a result of a decrease of 3,400 in full-time employment while part-time employment decreased by 1,900 . The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island increased to 11,600, up by 3,200 from one month ago and up by 4,000 from May 2019. The labour force participation rate stood at 63.7 in May, down 2.6 percentage points from May 2019. 

PEI implemented Phase 1 of relaxing public health measures to control the spread of COVID-19 on May 1 and Phase 2 began on May 22.  People began to re-enter the labour market and look for work. The total labour force increased by 5,800 to total 83,500 in May compared to April. The labour force remains 1,400 lower than May 2019. Phase 3 of relaxing public health measures began June 1.

The three-month moving average unemployment rate used by the Employment Insurance program for the Charlottetown region increased to 9.1 per cent in May, up from 7.7 per cent in April. This results in a decrease in the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region, from 630 to 560 hours and increases the minimum draw period from 17 to 20 weeks. The rate in the PEI region in May was 12.3 per cent, up from 10.3 per cent in April. This results in a decrease in the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region, from 525 to 455 hours and increases the minimum draw period from 21 to 24 weeks.

Nationally, employment increased by 1.8 per cent in May as some jurisdictions began easing COVID-19 restrictions. The unemployment rate increased 0.7 percentage points to 13.7 per cent, as there were more people looking for work. This is the highest rate recorded since comparable data became available in 1976. In addition to the rise in employment, the number of people reporting increased absences from work due to COVID-19 restrictions fell by 8.6 per cent. Combined, this represents a recovery of 10.6 per cent of COVID-19 related job losses and absences. 

Employment gains (+)/ losses (-) between May 2019 and May 2020 occurred in the following sectors on Prince Edward Island*:

Prince Edward Island Employment By Industry

Goods-producing sector:     


Service-providing sector:




Trade (Retail/Wholesale):


Other Primary Industries:


Transport & Warehousing:




Finance, Insurance, Real Estate:




Business Services:




Professional, Scientific and Technical:




Educational Services:




Health & Social Services:




Public Administration:




Information, Culture and Recreation:




Accommodation & Food services:


    Other Services: -100

* Components may not sum to total due to rounding


PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation

The labour force survey collection week for May was the week of the 10th to the 16th. For the Island, this period included the impacts of the Phase 1 reopening, which began May 1st, but predates the more significant reopening which began on May 22nd. Consequently, the majority of the COVID-19 restrictions in place for non-essential businesses, travel, and public health measures to observe social distancing were still in force at the time of collection. 

On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment totalled 71,900 people in May. This was an increase of 2,600 people from April 2020, and a decline of 8,700 people since February 2020. Of the employed, 8,100, or 11.3 per cent worked zero hours in May, down 2,200 people from April, while 5,900 people, or 8.2 per cent worked less than half of their usual hours, an increase of 3,200 from April.

The number of unemployed totaled 11,600 people on a seasonally adjusted basis in May, an increase of 3,200 people From April 2020, and up 4,600 people from February 2020. Of the unemployed, there were 7,300 who were actively looking for work in May, an increase of  2,000 people from April, while there were 4,300 people in May who were on temporary layoff who expected to be recalled, an increase of 1,200 from April. Officially, the unemployment rate in May was 13.9 per cent, an increase of 3.1 percentage points from April 2020.

As people re-enter the labour market, the number of people counted as not being in the labour force declined by 5,600 people in May, or by 10.5 per cent. As more people returned to work, or became active job seekers, the group deemed not in the labour force who wanted work declined by 2,700 or 30.3 per cent. Those who were not in the labour force for other reasons declined by 2,900 to reach 41,400 people, or 6.5 per cent. Prior to the pandemic, this group averaged approximately 40,000 people over the last two years.

One of the results of the pandemic and the measures put in place to control the spread, is a significant increase in labour underutilization. Combining all those who were unemployed with those who were not in the labour force but wanted a job and did not look for one, as well as those who remained employed but lost all or the majority of their usual work hours, labour underutilization has increased from 34,900 people in April 2020 to 35,400 people in May 2020, or 1.4 per cent. The increase from February was 19,900 people, or 128 per cent.


  1. The LFS estimates for May are for the week of May 11 to 16, 2020.
  2. The LFS estimates are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling variability. For more information, see the Statistics Canada publication "Interpreting Monthly Changes in Employment from the Labour Force Survey."
  3. The next release of the LFS will be on July 10, 2020.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released June 5, 2020.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Published date: 
June 5, 2020

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Phone: (902) 368-4040
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