Labour Force Survey Monthly

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Labour Force Survey, April 2020

released May 8, 2020

Statistics Canada is closely monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus) on the Canadian labour market. Following a drop of over one million in March, national employment fell by nearly two million in April, bringing the total employment decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown to over three million. 


The data in this release correspond to the reference period of April 12 to 18.


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 April 2020 labour force for PEI follows the regular monthly report.

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

April 2020 13.0 16.0 10.8 12.0 13.2 17.0 11.3 11.4 11.3 13.4 11.5
March 2020 7.8 11.7 8.6 9.0 8.8 8.1 7.6 6.4 7.3 8.7 7.2
April 2019 5.7 11.8 8.6 6.9 8.0 4.9 5.9 5.1 5.5 6.7 4.6
Year-over-Year change (pp) 7.3 4.2 2.2 5.1 5.2 12.1 5.4 6.3 5.8 6.7 6.9
Monthly change (pp) 5.2 4.3 2.2 3.0 4.4 8.9 3.7 5.0 4.0 4.7 4.3


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.8 per cent in April 2020, the lowest unemployment rate in the country. This is up 2.2 percentage points from last month and also up 2.2 percentage points from April 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in April totaled 69,300. This is a decrease of 8,600 from one year ago and down by 9,200 from March 2020. The annual decrease was a result of a decrease of 5,400 in full-time employment while part-time employment decreased by 3,200 . This represents an 11.0 percent decline in year-over-year employment, which is the lowest year-over-year decline among provinces.

The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island increased to 8,400, up by 1,000 from one month ago and up by 1,100 from April 2019. The labour force participation rate stood at 59.4 in April, down 7.2 percentage points from April 2019. The total labour force decreased by 7,400 from April 2019 to total 77,700.

The three-month moving average unemployment rate used by the Employment Insurance program for the Charlottetown region increased to 7.7 per cent in April, up from 6.1 per cent in March. This results in a decrease in the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region, from 665 to 630 hours and increases the minimum draw period from 15 to 17 weeks. The rate in the PEI region in April was 10.3 per cent, up from 9.9 per cent in March. This results in a decrease in the hours needed to qualify for EI in this region, from 560 to 525 hours and increases the minimum draw period from 20 to 21 weeks.

Nationally, employment fell by nearly two million in April, bringing the total employment decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 economic shutdown to over three million. The magnitude of the decline in employment since February (-15.7 per cent) far exceeds declines observed in previous labour market downturns. For example, the 1981-1982 recession resulted in a total employment decline of 612,000 (-5.4 per cent) over approximately 17 months. 

The unemployment rate rose 5.2 percentage points in April to 13.0 per cent, following an increase of 2.2 percentage points in March. Since comparable data became available in 1976, this is the highest national unemployment rate since December 1982.

Employment gains (+)/ losses (-) between April 2019 and April 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: -200

* 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 April was the week of the 12th to the 18th. For the Island, this period was well within the COVID-19 shutdown period of the province with restrictions in place for non-essential businesses, travel, 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.  The number of hours worked on Prince Edward Island fell by 25.4 per cent compared to February 2020. Nationally, hours worked declined 27.7 per cent over this time period.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, employment totalled 65,300 people in April. This is a decline of 7,400 people from March 2020, and a decline of 10,800 people since February 2020. Of the employed, there were 8,300 Islanders who were away from work for the full week of April 12 to 18 for reasons that can be attributed to COVID-19* including ‘business conditions’ and ‘other reasons’, while there were an additional 4,900 Islanders who worked less than 50 per cent of their usual hours for that week. These are increases of 6,600 people and 1,900 people respectively from February 2020. 

The number of unemployed totalled 11,700 people on an unadjusted basis in April, an increase of 3,200 people since February 2020. Officially, the unemployment rate in April was 15.2 per cent on an unadjusted basis, an increase of 5.2 per cent from February 2020. During the week of April 12th, there were 4,700 Islanders who were not in the labour force but had worked recently (in March or April) and wanted to work. These people were not counted as unemployed but are counted as not in the labour force because they did not look for work, presumably due to ongoing business closures and very limited opportunities to find new work. However, adjusting the unemployment rate to reflect those who were not counted as unemployed for reasons related to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate rises to 20.1 per cent.  

As can be seen in the chart below, the official unadjusted unemployment rates range from a low of 11.3 per cent in Ontario, to a high of 18.2 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, while the supplemental unemployment rate ranges from a low of 14.6 per cent in Manitoba to a high of 22.7 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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 16,800 people in February 2020 to 33,800 people in April 2020, an increase of 17,000 people, or 101 per cent.

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


  1. The LFS estimates for March are for the week of April 12 to 18, 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 June 5, 2020.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released May 8, 2020.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)



Date de publication : 
le 8 Mai 2020

Renseignements généraux

Ministère des Finances
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Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.) C1A 7N8

Téléphone : 902-368-4040
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