Labour Force Survey Monthly

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Labour Force Survey, December 2020

released January 8, 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.


Nationally, the number of workers affected by the Covid-19 shutdown (lost employment or reduced hours) during the December LFS reference week was estimated at 1.1 million, a reduction of 80 per cent since April. Employment in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick reached pre-Covid levels in November. Declines in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in December brought employment below the pre-Covid level once again in those jurisdictions.


The data in this release correspond to the reference period of December 6 to 12. For more information on survey enhancements, as well as the December 2020 results, please refer to the Statistics Canada December 2020 Labour Force Survey release. A supplementary analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on the December 2020 labour force for PEI follows the regular monthly report.

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

December 2020 8.6 12.3 10.1 8.6 9.3 6.7 9.5 8.2 7.8 11.0 7.2
November 2020 8.5 12.2 10.2 6.4 9.6 7.2 9.1 7.4 6.9 11.1 7.1
December 2019 5.6 11.8 7.9 7.9 7.5 5.3 5.3 5.0 5.7 7.0 4.8
Year-over-Year change (pp) 3.0 0.5 2.2 0.7 1.8 1.4 4.2 3.2 2.1 4.0 2.4
Monthly change (pp) 0.1 0.1 -0.1 2.2 -0.3 -0.5 0.4 0.8 0.9 -0.1 0.1
Annual Unemployment Rate (%)                      
2019 5.7 11.9 8.8 7.2 7.9 5.1 5.6 5.3 5.4 6.9 4.7
2020 9.5 13.7 10.4 9.6 9.8 8.8 9.6 7.9 8.3 11.3 8.8
Change (pp) 3.8 1.8 1.6 2.4 1.9 3.7 4.0 2.6 2.9 4.4 4.1
Annual Employment (000's)                      
2019 19,055.7 226.6 78.0 466.1 356.7 4,339.9 7,452.6 653.4 580.4 2,343.0 2,559.0
2020 18,059.5 213.6 75.8 444.7 347.2 4,139.2 7,081.4 630.6 551.6 2,175.0 2,400.4
Change(%) -5.2 -5.7 -2.8 -4.6 -2.7 -4.6 -5.0 -3.5 -5.0 -7.2 -6.2


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.1 per cent in December 2020. This is down 0.1 percentage points from last month and up 2.2 percentage points from December 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in December totaled 76,500. This is a decrease of 3,500 from one year ago and down by 900 from November 2020. The year-over-year decrease was a result of a decline of 2,900 in full-time employment while part-time employment fell by 500 . The total labour force decreased by 1,800 from December 2019, down 1,200 from November 2020, to total 85,100. PEI’s December employment was at 94.9 per cent of its pre-Covid February level. The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island was 8,600, down 200 from one month ago and up by 1,700 from December 2019. There were less people looking for work in December, pushing the labour force participation rate down to 64.3 per cent, a decrease of 1.0 percentage point from November 2020.

With the December release of the Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada also released 2020 annual labour force data. On an annual basis, P.E.I.’s unemployment rate increased by 1.6 percentage points, from 8.8 per cent in 2019 to 10.4 per cent in 2020. Employment fell 2.8 per cent, from 78,000 in 2019 to 75,800 in 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 December 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 63,000 (-0.3 per cent) in December, the first decline since April. Employment increased in the goods-producing sector, up 11,000, while employment in the services industries declined by 74,000. Employment was at 96.5 per cent of its pre-Covid February level in the services sector, compared with 97.5 per cent for the goods-producing sector. Employment decreased in all provinces except British Columbia, which saw a 0.2 per cent increase over November 2020. The unemployment rate for Canada increased 0.1 percentage points to 8.6 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in December.  

Beginning with the July LFS, Statistics Canada has incorporated new information on labour market conditions for diverse groups of Canadians. Unadjusted for seasonality, the national unemployment rate for December was 8.0 per cent, though several population groups designated as visible minorities had rates of joblessness significantly higher than the average, including Arab Canadians at 13.3 per cent, South Asian Canadians at 12.6 per cent, and Latin American Canadians at 12.0 per cent.

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

Prince Edward Island Employment By Industry

Goods-producing sector:     

-200 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: -900

PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation

As a result of an uptick in cases in early December, the Province of Prince Edward Island instituted a circuit-breaker lockdown beginning on 7 December 2020. This coincided with the LFS reference week of 6-12 December. On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment totaled 76,500 people in December. This was a decrease of 900 people from November 2020, and remained 4,100 people below the pre-COVID employment level of February 2020. The chart below shows the path of recovery in the labour market since February.  As a result of the circuit-breaker lockdown, the number of people employed, but working zero hours was at its highest point since May, while those working less than half of their usual hours was at its highest point since July.

Employment growth was uneven in December due to the re-imposition of COVID-19 restrictions in several provinces facing a rise in virus cases between November and December. Employment levels equaled their pre-COVID levels only in Newfoundland and Labrador, after having exceeded this threshold in November. By December, Prince Edward Island had achieved 95 per cent of its pre-COVID level of employment. Nationally, pre-COVID employment reached 97 per cent in December.

Between November and December 2020, the employment situation in the province declined as a result of the circuit-breaker measures put in place. Overall, employment declined 1.2 per cent, with male employment falling by 2.4 per cent, and female employment growing by 0.3 per cent. Within groups, youth employment (aged 15-24) fell for both males and females, while the employment of both males and females age 55 and older showed gains. As can be seen in the chart below, compared to pre-COVID employment levels, males aged 55 years and over have attained their pre-COVID employment level, while males aged 25-54 are not far away. Females aged 25-54 are at 97.5 per cent of pre-COVID employment, while both young men and women and older women remain much further away.

The trajectory of the employment recovery has differed between groups. For both males and females aged 25-54, the employment recovery, though progressing at different speeds, has had a fairly constant positive trajectory, though between November and December, this has been flat for females, and down for males. For youth employment, especially for women, the recovery has seen larger monthly variation, with youth employment falling for both men and women between November and December. Older women and older men have had very different employment trajectories through the course of the recession, with older men fairing relatively well, and older women far behind their pre-pandemic employment level, though both of these groups saw employment increases between November and December.

The number of unemployed totaled 8,600 people on a seasonally adjusted basis in December, up 200 from November 2020. The number of people on temporary layoff doubled between November and December at 2,200 as a result of the circuit-breaker measures introduced in early December.

The number of people counted as not in the labour force increased in December to 47,300, its highest level since September. The group deemed not in the labour force who wanted work increased by 800 in December to reach 3,800 people, as new pandemic restrictions took effect. Those who were not in the labour force for other reasons increased by 500 people, to reach 43,500 people.

One of the results of the pandemic and the measures put in place to control the spread, is a significant increase in labour underutilization . Labour underutilization increased by 2.8 percentage points to stand at 21.1 per cent in December, its highest level since July, largely as a result of the circuit-breaker measures (an increase in the number of people who were not in the labour force but wanted a job, and an increase in the number of people who lost the majority of their hours of work). The labour underutilization rate remains 6.7 percentage points above February 2020 levels.


* 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 December are for the week of December 6 to 12, 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 February 5, 2021.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released January 8, 2021.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Date de publication : 
le 8 Janvier 2021

Renseignements généraux

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