Labour Force Survey Monthly

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Labour Force Survey, September 2020

released October 9, 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 September LFS reference week was estimated at 1.3 million, a reduction of 76 per cent since April.

The data in this release correspond to the reference period of September 13 to 19. 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 September 2020 results, please refer to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey release at:

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

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

September 2020 9.0 14.8 10.1 7.9 10.4 7.4 9.5 7.0 6.8 11.7 8.4
August 2020 10.2 13.1 10.7 10.3 9.4 8.7 10.6 8.1 7.9 11.8 10.7
September 2019 5.5 11.4 8.6 7.2 8.1 4.9 5.3 4.8 5.3 6.6 4.8
Year-over-Year change (pp) 3.5 3.4 1.5 0.7 2.3 2.5 4.2 2.2 1.5 5.1 3.6
Monthly change (pp) -1.2 1.7 -0.6 -2.4 1.0 -1.3 -1.1 -1.1 -1.1 -0.1 -2.3


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows that P.E.I.’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.1 per cent in September 2020. This is down 0.6 percentage points from last month and up 1.5 percentage points from September 2019. Seasonally adjusted employment in September totaled 75,500. This is a decrease of 3,500 from one year ago and down by 800 from August 2020. The annual decrease was a result of a decline of 4,400 in full-time employment while part-time employment increased by 800 . The decline of the unemployment rate as employment fell is a result of less people looking for work. The total labour force decreased by 2,400 from September 2019, down 1,300 from August 2020, to total 84,000. PEI’s September employment was at 93.7 per cent of its pre-COVID February level.

The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island fell to 8,500, down 600 from one month ago and up by 1,100 from September 2020. The labour force participation rate stood at 63.7 in September, down 2.9 percentage points from September 2019.

The three-month moving average unemployment rate used by the Employment Insurance program for the Charlottetown region remained at 13.1 per cent  in September for the third consecutive month. The rate in the PEI region in August was also 13.1 per cent, down from 13.4 per cent in August. There is no change in EI eligibility in either region.

Nationally, employment increased by 378,000 in September, a rise of 2.1 per cent. Employment increased in both the goods and services industries, up 75,000, and 303,000 respectively compared to August 2020 but remain below pre-COVID levels. Employment reached 96.4 per cent of its pre-COVID February level in the services sector, compared with 95.7 per cent for the goods-producing sector. Employment increased in every province except New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, with the largest gains in Ontario and Quebec. The unemployment rate decreased 1.2 percentage points to 9.0 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in September.  

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 September was 8.4 per cent, though several population groups designated as visible minorities had rates of joblessness significantly higher than the average, including Southeast Asian Canadians at 12.4 per cent, Arab Canadians at 16.3 per cent and Black Canadians at 11.7 per cent.

Employment gains (+)/ losses (-) between September 2019 and September 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 September was the week of the 13th to the 19th. This period immediately follows allowing childcare facilities to return to full capacity, and schools re-opening to in-person learning on September 8/9th.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment totaled 75,500 people in September. This was a decline of 800 people from August 2020, and remained 5,100 people below the pre-COVID employment level of February 2020. The chart below shows the path of recovery in the labour market since February.  The number of employed people working zero hours has fallen by 7,300, or 71.6 per cent since April, while the number of people working less than 50 per cent of their usual hours fell by 300 people between August and September to reach 1,400 people.

Employment continued to recover across the majority of provinces in September, with employment levels continuing to approach their pre-COVID (February 2020) levels. These levels ranged from a high of 98.2 per cent in Manitoba to a low of 93.7 per cent in Prince Edward Island. Nationally, pre-COVID employment reached 96.3 per cent in September.

The number of unemployed totaled 8,500 people on a seasonally adjusted basis in September a decrease of 800 people from August 2020, but still 1,500 people above February 2020. There were 7,800 people who were actively looking for work in September, while there were 800 people in September who were on temporary layoff and expected to be recalled, a decrease of 600 from August.

The number of people counted as not being in the labour force increased by 1,400 people in September, or by 3.0 per cent. The group deemed not in the labour force who wanted work decreased by 900 in September or by 2.3 per cent, to reach 3,000 people. At 3,000 people, this indicator is within the rage of values seen prior to the pandemic; 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 increased by 2,300 people, or by 5.4 per cent, to reach 44,800 people, the highest level observed since the pandemic began. 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***. This situation is improving as labour underutilization declined by 1.9 percentage points to stand at 18.2 per cent in September. The labour underutilization rate remains 3.8 percentage points above February 2020 levels.

The labour force recovery of core-aged workers (25-54) continues to outpace the general recovery in employment. Men aged 25-54 have largely exceeded their labour force situation compared to September 2019, with employment above, and the unemployment rate below where they were in September 2019. Core-aged men have also achieved their pre-COVID employment level as of September 2020. Core-aged women however, still have more ground to make up. Though employment increased marginally (+100) between August and September, the unemployment rate increased by 3.4 percentage points over this time period, and remains 4.4 percentage points above September 2019 levels.

Youth employment continues to lag the general employment trend, down 8.5 per cent on a year-to-date basis through September, and down 21.7 per cent from pre-COVID levels. This is true of both men and women in this age group, with male employment down 6 per cent year-to-date and 25 per cent below pre-COVID levels, and female employment down 11.6 per cent through September, and down 19.3 per cent from pre-COVID 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 September are for the week of September 13 to 19, 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 November 6, 2020.

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

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Date de publication : 
le 9 Octobre 2020

Renseignements généraux

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