Labour Force Survey Monthly

Labour Force Survey, October 2020

released November 6, 2020

Statistics Canada is closely monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 on the Canadian labour market. From February to April, 5.5 million Canadian workers were affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. By August, most jurisdictions had substantially eased restrictions, allowing non-essential businesses to re-open. In the Atlantic region, the Atlantic bubble allowed residents to travel freely once again between the 4 Atlantic provinces. In October, some jurisdictions re-introduced some public health measures in response to a spike in Covid-19 cases. These were mostly targeted at businesses where the risk of transmission is higher, such as restaurants, bars and recreational facilities. The number of workers affected by the COVID-19 shutdown during the October LFS reference week was estimated at 1.1 million, a reduction of 80 per cent since April.

The data in this release correspond to the reference period of October 11 to 17. PEI remained at the “New Normal” level of the new alert level system, the most relaxed level of public health measures of the 3 level system. Quarantine-free travel between the four Atlantic provinces (Atlantic bubble) remained in effect during October.

For more information on survey enhancements, as well as the October 2020 results, please refer to the Statistics Canada October 2020 Labour Force Survey release.

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


Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

October 2020 8.9 12.8 10.0 8.7 10.1 7.7 9.6 7.1 6.4 10.7 8.0
September 2020 9.0 14.8 10.1 7.9 10.4 7.4 9.5 7.0 6.8 11.7 8.4
October 2019 5.6 11.1 8.2 8.1 8.1 5.0 5.3 5.3 5.2 6.8 4.8
Year-over-Year change (pp) 3.3 1.7 1.8 0.6 2.0 2.7 4.3 1.8 1.2 3.9 3.2
Monthly change (pp) -0.1 -2.0 -0.1 0.8 -0.3 0.3 0.1 0.1 -0.4 -1.0 -0.4


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.0 per cent in October 2020. This is down 0.1 percentage point from last month and up 1.8 percentage points from October 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in October totalled 76,400. This is a decrease of 2,600 from one year ago and up by 900 from September 2020. The annual decrease was a result of a decline of 3,100 in full-time employment while part-time employment increased by 500*. The total labour force decreased by 1,200 from October 2019, up 900 from September 2020, to total 84,900. PEI’s October employment was at 94.8 per cent of its pre-COVID February level. The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island remained at 8,500, no change from one month ago and up by 1,400 from October 2019. The labour force participation rate stood at 64.3 in October, down 2.0 percentage points from October 2019.

The three-month moving average unemployment rate used by the Employment Insurance program for both the Charlottetown and PEI regions remained unchanged at 13.1 per cent in October as the Government of Canada continues to use the temporary minimum unemployment rate for EI purposes**. There is no change in EI eligibility in either region.

Nationally, employment increased by 84,000 in October, a rise of 0.5 per cent. Employment increased in both the goods and services industries, up 18,000, and 66,000 respectively compared to September 2020. Gains in many sectors were offset by a decrease of 48,000 in the accommodation and food sector, mainly in Quebec. Employment reached 96.8 per cent of its pre-COVID February level in the services sector, compared with 96.1 per cent for the goods-producing sector. Employment increased in only five provinces, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. The unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage points to 8.9 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in October.  

Beginning with the July LFS, Statistics Canada has incorporated new information on labour market conditions for diverse groups of Canadians. Unadjusted for seasonality, the unemployment rate for October was 8.1 per cent, though several population groups designated as visible minorities had rates of joblessness significantly higher than the average, including Southeast Asian Canadians at 13.8 per cent, Arab Canadians at 13.7 per cent and Black Canadians at 12.5 per cent.


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

Prince Edward Island Employment By Industry

Goods-producing sector:     

+100 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: -500

PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation

On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment totaled 76,400 people in October. This was an increase of 900 people from September 2020, and remained 4,200 people below the pre-COVID employment level of February 2020. The chart below shows the path of recovery in the labour market since February.  The number of employed people working zero hours has fallen by 7,300, or 71.6 per cent since April, while the number of people working less than 50 per cent of their usual hours fell by 500 people between September and October to reach 1,200 people.  In the two years prior to the pandemic, the number of people working zero hours averaged approximately 2,600 in any given month. At 2,900, this value falls within the range seen over the last two years. Conversely, people working less than 50 per cent of their usual hours has averaged approximately 800 people a month over the last two years, and at 1,200 people is still above the levels seen prior to the pandemic.

Employment growth was uneven in October due to the re-imposition of COVID-19 restrictions in some provinces facing a rise in virus cases. Employment levels were closest to their pre-COVID levels in Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and New Brunswick, while PEI has recovered to 94.8 per cent. Nationally, pre-COVID employment reached 96.7 per cent in October.

The number of unemployed totalled 8,500 people on a seasonally adjusted basis in October, unchanged from September 2020, but still 1,500 people above February 2020. There were 7,400 people who were actively looking for work in October, while there were 1,100 people in October who were on temporary layoff and expected to be recalled, an increase of 300 from September.

The number of people counted as not being in the labour force decreased by 600 people in October, or by 1.3 per cent. The group deemed not in the labour force who wanted work increased by 100 in October or by 3.3 per cent, to reach 3,100 people. At 3,100 people, this indicator is within the rage of values seen prior to the pandemic; at the height of the lockdown restrictions in April, this number reached 8,800 people. Those who were not in the labour force for other reasons decreased by 700 people, or by 1.6 per cent, to reach 44,100 people. 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 . This situation is improving as labour underutilization*** declined by 0.4 percentage points to stand at 17.8 per cent in October. The labour underutilization rate remains 3.4 percentage points above February 2020 levels.

On PEI, the labour force recovery of core-aged workers (aged 25-54) continues to outpace the general recovery in employment. Men aged 25-54 have largely exceeded their labour force situation compared to October 2019, with employment above, and the unemployment rate below where they were in October 2019. Core-aged men have also exceeded their pre-COVID employment level as of October 2020. Core-aged women however, still have more ground to make up. Employment decreased (-200) between September and October, while the unemployment rate decreased by 0.9 percentage points, and remains 3.6 percentage points above October 2019 levels.

Youth employment continues to lag the general employment trend, down 8.8 per cent on a year-to-date basis through October, and down 16.5 per cent from October 2019. This is true of both men and women in this age group, with male employment down 6.1 per cent year-to-date and 14.1 per cent below October 2019 levels, and female employment down 12.2 per cent through October, and down 21.1 per cent from October 2019.

As labour market indicators continue to return to pre-COVID conditions, we may be seeing the beginnings of a labour market with sustained higher unemployment due to fewer jobs. This situation would have the largest impact on those groups which have the least attachment to the labour force. Improving the labour market outcomes for groups outside of core-aged and older men is necessary for the Island to return to pre-COVID-19 levels of employment. This will entail addressing both those who are currently unemployed, but also by enabling the return to the labour force of those people who have recently stopped looking for work for lack of employment prospects.

* Components may not sum to total due to rounding

** Effective August 9th, the Government of Canada introduced a temporary minimum unemployment rate of 13.1 per cent for EI purposes for all economic regions of Canada.

***Labour underutilization rate (specific definition to measure the COVID-19 impact) combines 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 for reasons likely related to the COVID-19 as a proportion of the potential labour force. The potential labour force (specific definition to measure the COVID-19 impact) includes people in the labour force (all employed and unemployed people), and people not in the labour force who wanted a job but didn't search for reasons such as 'waiting for recall (to former job),' 'waiting for replies from employers,' 'believes no work available (in area, or suited to skills),' 'long-term future start,' and 'other.'


  1. The LFS estimates for October are for the week of October 11 to 17, 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 December 4, 2020.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released November 6, 2020.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Published date: 
November 6, 2020

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