Labour Force Survey Monthly

Labour Force Survey, March 2020

released April 9, 2020

Statistics Canada is closely monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus) on the Canadian labour market. The March release of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the first at Statistics Canada in which the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is clearly visible. The data in this release correspond to the reference period of March 15 to 21.


For more information, please refer to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey release at:


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

Prince Edward Island Employment

graph showing PEI employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

March 2020 7.8 11.7 8.6 9.0 8.8 8.1 7.6 6.4 7.3 8.7 7.2
February 2020 5.6 12.0 8.0 7.8 6.9 4.5 5.5 5.0 6.2 7.2 5.0
March 2019 5.7 11.6 8.9 6.2 7.9 5.2 5.9 5.0 5.0 6.9 4.7
Year-over-Year change (pp) 2.1 0.1 -0.3 2.8 0.9 2.9 1.7 1.4 2.3 1.8 2.5
Monthly change (pp) 2.2 -0.3 0.6 1.2 1.9 3.6 2.1 1.4 1.1 1.5 2.2


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.6 per cent in March 2020. This is up 0.6 percentage points from last month and down 0.3 percentage points from March 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in March totaled 78,500. This is an increase of 1,300 from one year ago and down by 2,100 from February 2020. The annual increase was a result of an increase of 2,100 in full-time employment while part-time employment decreased by 700 . The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island increased to 7,400, up by 400 from one month ago and down by 100 from March 2019. The labour force participation rate stood at 65.7 in March, down 0.7 percentage points from March 2019. The total labour force increased by 1,300 from March 2019 to total 85,900.

The three-month moving average unemployment rate used by the Employment Insurance program for the Charlottetown region increased to 6.1 per cent in March, up from 5.4 per cent in February. This results in a decrease in the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region, from 700 to 665 hours and increases the minimum draw period from 14 to 15 weeks. The rate in the PEI region in March was 9.9 per cent, down from 10.2 per cent in February.  This results in an increase in the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region, from 525 to 560 hours and decreases the minimum draw period from 21 to 20 weeks.

Nationally, employment decreased by more than one million in March and the unemployment rate increased 2.2 percentage points to 7.8 per cent, the largest one month increase since comparable data became available in 1976. Of those who were employed in March, the number who did not work any hours during the reference week (March 15 to 21) increased by 1.3 million, while the number who worked less than half of their usual hours increased by 800,000. These increases in absences from work can be attributed to COVID-19 and bring the total number of Canadians who were affected by either job loss or reduced hours to 3.1 million.

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

* Components may not sum to total due to rounding


PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

graph showing PEI unemployment




  1. The LFS estimates for March are for the week of March 15 to 21, 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 May 8, 2020.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released April 9, 2020.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)


COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation


The labour force survey collection week for March was the week of the 15th to the 21st. For the Island, this coincided with the declaration of a public health emergency by the Provincial Government on March 16th, and the beginning of restrictions to non-essential businesses, travel restrictions, and public health measures to observe social distancing. 

As the COVID-19 situation is a different type of employment shock, additional measures are required to analyze the impact on labour. These include measures of Island workers who kept their jobs, but worked reduced hours or no hours, and measures that capture people who did not look for work due to ongoing business closures. At 15.3 per cent, Prince Edward Island recorded the third largest month-over-month decline in hours worked. Nationally, hours worked declined 15.1 per cent.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, there were 6,800 Islanders who were away from work for the full week of March 15 to 21 for reasons that can be attributed to COVID-19**, including ‘business conditions’ and ‘other reasons’, while there were an additional 7,700 Islanders who worked less than 50 per cent of their usual hours for that week, for a total of 14,500 Islanders whose employment was impacted, but who were not unemployed in March. These are increases of 5,600 people and 4,800 people respectively from March of 2019. As can be seen in the graph below, these values are the highest on record respectively. Though these workers are currently employed, their underutilization may portend to future unemployment in subsequent months.

graph showing PEI work absences by month

Additionally, there were 1,200 workers who were not in the labour force but who last worked in March and wanted work, again the highest on record. If these workers are included as unemployed as opposed to being not in the labour force, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March would increase from 10.9 per cent to 12.2 per cent, an increase of 1.3 percentage points from the official March 2020 estimate and an increase of 1.2 percentage points from March of 2019.

**These reasons do not include things like vacation, maternity/parental leave, holidays, labour disputes etc.


Published date: 
April 9, 2020

General Inquiries

Department of Finance
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95 Rochford Street
P.O. Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE, C1A 7N8

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