Labour Force Survey Monthly

Labour Force Survey, January 2021

released February 5, 2021

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 and early November, 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. Later in November and early December, most jurisdictions introduced more targeted measures. On November 23rd, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador left the Atlantic bubble, followed by New Brunswick on November 26th. Prince Edward Island began a 2 week partial shutdown on December 7th. In late December, many jurisdictions extended public health restrictions as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were the only jurisdictions to ease restrictions during this period, as in-person dining was once again allowed and recreational and cultural activities were permitted to resume.

Nationally, the number of workers affected by the Covid-19 shutdown (lost employment or reduced hours) during the January LFS reference week was estimated at 1.4 million. Employment in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick reached pre-Covid levels in January.

The data in this release correspond to the reference period of January 10 to 16. For more information on survey enhancements, as well as the January 2021 results, please refer to the Statistics Canada January 2021 Labour Force Survey release. A supplementary analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on the January 2021 labour force for PEI follows the regular monthly report.

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

January 2021 9.4 12.8 7.9 8.3 8.8 8.8 10.2 8.0 7.2 10.7 8.0
December 2020 8.8 12.6 9.9 8.8 9.6 6.8 9.6 8.3 8.0 11.1 7.2
January 2020 5.6 12.4 7.6 7.6 7.7 5.1 5.3 5.2 6.1 7.4 4.6
Year-over-Year change (pp) 3.8 0.4 0.3 0.7 1.1 3.7 4.9 2.8 1.1 3.3 3.4
Monthly change (pp) 0.6 0.2 -2.0 -0.5 -0.8 2.0 0.6 -0.3 -0.8 -0.4 0.8


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.9 per cent in January 2021, the lowest rate since the beginning of the pandemic and second lowest in the country for January. This is down 2.0 percentage points from last month and up 0.3 percentage points from January 2020. Seasonally adjusted employment in January totaled 78,400. This is a decrease of 3,200 from one year ago and up by 900 from December 2020. The year-over-year decrease was a result of a decline of 2,800 in full-time employment while part-time employment fell by 400 . The total labour force decreased by 3,100 from January 2020, down 900 from December 2020, to total 85,100. PEI’s January employment was at 95.8 per cent of its pre-Covid February 2020 level. The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island was 6,700, down 1,800 from one month ago and no change from January 2020. There were less people looking for work in January, pushing the labour force participation rate down to 63.9 per cent, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point from December 2020.

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 January 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 decreased by 213,000 (-1.2 per cent) in January. Employment losses were entirely in part-time work and mostly in the retail trade sector in Quebec and Ontario where non-essential retail businesses were closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Employment increased in the goods-producing sector, up 23,000, while employment in the services industries declined by 236,000. Employment was at 98.0 per cent of its pre-Covid February level in the services sector, compared with 94.9 per cent for the goods-producing sector. Employment decreased in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador while all other provinces saw an increase over December 2020. The unemployment rate for Canada increased 0.6 percentage points to 9.4 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in January. The number of people working from home increased by nearly 700,000 in January, bringing the total to 5.4 million, the highest level since the pandemic began.

Unadjusted for seasonality, the national unemployment rate for January was 9.8 per cent. Several population groups designated as visible minorities had rates of joblessness significantly higher than the average, including South Asian Canadians at 20.1 per cent, Latin American Canadians at 16.6 per cent, and Black Canadians at 16.4 per cent.


Employment gains (+)/ losses (-) between January 2020 and January 2021 occurred in the following sectors on Prince Edward Island:

Prince Edward Island Employment By Industry

Goods-producing sector:     

-800 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: -1,500

PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

Gender Impacts of COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation

As of January 2021, core aged workers (workers aged 24-55) achieved 99.6 per cent of their pre-COVID employment. Older works (aged 55 years and up), had achieved 93.1 per cent of their pre-COVID employment, while youth (aged 15-24) lagged the most at 95.8 per cent. This breakdown differs by gender.

As can be seen in the figure below, males aged 25-54 and males aged 55 years and over have exceeded their pre-COVID employment level. Males aged 15-55 saw an improvement in the percentage of pre-COVID employment between December 2020 and January 2021. Males aged 55 and over had already attained 100.9 per cent of their pre-COVID employment in December 2020. The same is not true for females. Females aged 15-24 saw no gain between December 2020 and January 2021, and remain the group farthest away from their pre-COVID employment. Females aged 24-54 saw their percentage of pre-COVID employment decline between December 2020 and January 2021, though they remain the group closest to pre-COVID employment, while females aged 55 and over saw an improvement in the percentage of their pre-COVID employment to reach 84.4 per cent in January.


* 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.



  1. The LFS estimates for January are for the week of January 10 to 16, 2021.
  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 March 12, 2021.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released February 5, 2021.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Published date: 
February 5, 2021

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