Labour Force Survey Monthly

Labour Force Survey, August 2020

released September 4, 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. The easing of restrictions resulted in increased employment and more people began looking for work once again. The number of workers affected by the COVID-19 shutdown during the August LFS reference week was estimated at 1.8 million, a reduction of 67 per cent since April.

The data in this release correspond to the reference period of August 9 to 15. PEI remained at Phase 4 of relaxing public health measures, which came into effect on June 26th. Quarantine-free travel between the four Atlantic provinces (Atlantic bubble) came into effect on July 3rd.

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

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

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

August 2020 10.2 13.1 10.7 10.3 9.4 8.7 10.6 8.1 7.9 11.8 10.7
July 2020 10.9 15.6 11.7 10.8 9.8 9.5 11.3 8.2 8.8 12.8 11.1
August 2019 5.7 12.9 8.8 7.9 8.5 4.7 5.6 5.5 5.1 7.2 5.0
Year-over-Year change (pp) 4.5 0.2 1.9 2.4 0.9 4.0 5.0 2.6 2.8 4.6 5.7
Monthly change (pp) -0.7 -2.5 -1.0 -0.5 -0.4 -0.8 -0.7 -0.1 -0.9 -1.0 -0.4


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.7 per cent in August 2020. This is down 1.0 percentage points from last month and up 1.9 percentage points from August 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in August totaled 76,300. This is a decrease of 2,300 from one year ago and up by 1,600 from July 2020. The annual decrease was a result of a decline of 2,900 in full-time employment while part-time employment increased by 500 . The increase in August brings PEI to 94.7 per cent of its pre-COVID February level of employment.

The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island fell to 9,100, down 800 from one month ago and up by 1,500 from August 2019. The labour force participation rate stood at 64.8 in August, down 1.9 percentage points from August 2019. The total labour force decreased by 900 from August 2019 to total 85,300.

The three-month moving average unemployment rate used by the Employment Insurance program for the Charlottetown region remained at 13.1 per cent  in August. There is no change in EI eligibility in this region. The rate in the PEI region in August was 13.4 per cent, down from 14.7 per cent in July. This decreases the minimum draw period from 28 to 26 weeks, while the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region remains at 420 hours.

Nationally, employment increased by 246,000 in August, a rise of 1.4 per cent. Employment increased in both the goods and services industries, up 28,000, and 218,000 respectively compared to July 2020 but remain below pre-COVID levels. Employment reached 94.4 per cent of its pre-COVID February level in the services sector, compared with 93.8 per cent for the goods-producing sector. Employment increased in every province except Alberta and New Brunswick, with the largest gains in Ontario and Quebec. The unemployment rate decreased 0.7 percentage points to 10.2 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in August.  

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 August was 11.1 per cent, though several population groups designated as visible minorities had rates of joblessness significantly higher than the average, including Southeast Asian Canadians at 16.6 per cent, Arab Canadians at 17.9 per cent and Black Canadians at 17.6 per cent.

Employment gains (+)/ losses (-) between August 2019 and August 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: +300

PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation

The labour force survey (LFS) collection week for August was the week of the 9th to the 15th. For the Island, in terms of the further loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, this period was one of relative stability, as no further relaxations of note happened over this timeframe.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment totaled 76,300 people in August. This was an increase of 1,600 people from June 2020, but remained 4,300 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 6,900, or 67.6 per cent since April, while the number of people working less than 50 per cent of their usual hours fell by 800 people between July and August to reach 1,700 people.

As of August, Prince Edward Island achieved 94.7 per cent of its pre-COVID employment level (February 2020 level). Employment continued to recover across provinces, with pre-COVID employment levels ranging from a high of 96.4 per cent in New Brunswick to a low of 93 per cent in Alberta. Nationally, pre-COVID employment reached 94.3 per cent in August.

The number of unemployed totaled 7,700 people on a seasonally adjusted basis in August, a decrease of 1,200 people from July 2020, but still 1,600 people above February 2020. There were 7,700 people who were actively looking for work in August, while there were 1,400 people in August who were on temporary layoff and expected to be recalled, an increase of 300 from July.

The number of people counted as not being in the labour force decreased by 500 people in August, or by 1.1 per cent. As more people returned to work, or became active job seekers, the group deemed not in the labour force who wanted work increased by 400 in August or 11.4 per cent, to reach 3,900 people. Though still higher than the pre-COVID average, 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 900 people, or by 2.1 per cent, to reach 42,500 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. 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 rate decreased from 22.0 per cent in July 2020 to 20.1 per cent in August 2020, an improvement of 1.9 percentage points. The labour underutilization rate remains 5.7 percentage points above February 2020 levels.

The labour force of both men and women aged 25 and over continues to improve as the recovery goes on. However, men in this age group have largely exceeded their labour force situation compared to August 2019, with employment up, and both unemployment and the unemployment rate below where they were in August 2019. Women, however, still have more ground to make up. Though employment increased, while unemployment and the unemployment rate decreased between July and August 2020, these metrics remain below where they were in August 2019. 

Childcare remained an issue in August, as schools were not open during the LFS reference week, and on the Island, childcare facilities were still not back to full capacity. Both of these conditions should be resolved by the September LFS reference week (September 13th -19th), as childcare facilities were able to go back to full capacity as of September 1st, while school opens for in-person learning for all students on September 8/9th. Consequently, we should expect to see the labour force availability of parents, and mothers in particular, improve as a result of this change.

* 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 July are for the week of August 9 to 15, 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 October 9, 2020.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released September 4, 2020.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Published date: 
September 4, 2020

General Inquiries

Department of Finance
2nd Floor South, Shaw Building
95 Rochford Street
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7N8

Phone: (902) 368-4040
Fax: (902) 368-6575