Labour Force Survey Monthly

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Labour Force Survey, March 2021

released April 9, 2021

Statistics Canada is closely monitoring the impacts of Covid-19 on the Canadian labour market. From February to April 2020, 5.5 million Canadian workers were affected by the Covid-19 economic shutdown. By August 2020, 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. In late December, many jurisdictions extended public health restrictions as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were the only jurisdictions to ease restrictions during this period, as in-person dining was once again allowed and recreational and cultural activities were permitted to resume. On February 28th, 2021 Prince Edward Island entered a two week circuit breaker period with partial restrictions as Covid-19 cases began to rise once again. This included a 72 hour period of more stringent restrictions from March 1st to 3rd, when only essential business were permitted to remain open.

The data in this release correspond to the reference period of March 14 to 20. For more information on survey enhancements, as well as the March 2021 results, please refer to the Statistics Canada March 2021 Labour Force Survey release. A supplementary analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on the March 2021 labour force for PEI follows the regular monthly report.

Prince Edward Island Employment

Unemployment Rate By Province (seasonally adjusted, in percentage)

March 2021 7.5 12.4 8.1 8.6 9.2 6.4 7.5 6.8 7.3 9.1 6.9
February 2021 8.2 15.3 9.2 8.1 8.9 6.4 9.2 6.8 7.3 9.9 6.9
March 2020 7.9 11.6 8.9 9.4 9.1 8.2 7.4 6.7 7.4 9.1 7.2
Year-over-Year change (pp) -0.4 0.8 -0.8 -0.8 0.1 -1.8 0.1 0.1 -0.1 0.0 -0.3
Monthly change (pp) -0.7 -2.9 -1.1 0.5 0.3 0.0 -1.7 0.0 0.0 -0.8 0.0


Today’s Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey shows the labour market for P.E.I., as well as for Canada, continues to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for P.E.I. was 8.9 per cent in March 2021, down 1.1 percentage points from last month and down 0.8 percentage points from March 2020. Seasonally adjusted employment in March totaled 79,200. This is an increase of 600 from one year ago and up by 1,300 from February 2021. The year-over-year increase was due to an increase of 2,000 in part-time employment while full-time employment fell by 1,400. The total labour force decreased by 100 from March 2020, up 400 from February 2021, to total 86,200. PEI’s March employment was at 96.8 per cent of its pre-Covid February 2020 level. The number of unemployed persons on Prince Edward Island was 7,000, down 900 from one month ago and down 700 compared to March 2020. There were more people looking for work in March, pushing the labour force participation rate up to 64.6 per cent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points from February 2021.

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 March 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 increased by 303,000 (1.6 per cent) in March, following a 1.4 per cent increase in February. Employment gains were seen in both part-time and full-time work, with increases reflecting continued recovery in industries where employment had fallen in January in response to public health restrictions. Employment in the goods-producing sector was up 43,000, while employment in the services industries increased by 260,000. Employment was at 99.1 per cent of its pre-Covid February level in the goods sector, compared with 98.3 per cent for the services-producing sector. Employment increased in all provinces except Saskatchewan where it was unchanged from February 2021. The unemployment rate for Canada decreased 0.7 percentage points to 7.5 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in March, the lowest rate since the beginning of the pandemic. Compared with February 2020, there were 296,000 (-1.5 per cent) fewer people employed in March 2021, and 247,000 (30.4 per cent) more people worked less than half of their usual hours. The labour underutilization rate fell 1.9 percentage points to 14.7 per cent, the lowest level since February 2020.

Unadjusted for seasonality, the national unemployment rate for March was 8.1 per cent. Several population groups designated as visible minorities had rates of joblessness significantly higher than the average, including Arab Canadians at 12.1 per cent, Latin American Canadians at 12.0 per cent, and Black Canadians at 11.1 per cent.

Employment gains (+)/ losses (-) between March 2020 and March 2021 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: -800

PEI Unemployment Rate                                                                                                                                          

(Seasonally Adjusted)

Gender Impacts of COVID-19 and the Provincial Labour Market Situation

March saw a general improvement in the employment situation on the Island across broad age and sex categories. As of March 2021, core aged workers (workers aged 24-55) achieved 98.3 per cent of their pre-COVID employment. Older works (aged 55 years and up), had achieved 99.5 per cent of their pre-COVID employment, while youth (aged 15-24) lagged the most at 86.5 per cent. The breakdown by gender is below.

As can be seen in the figure below, males aged 25-54 and males aged 55 years and over continue to exceed their pre-COVID employment levels. Between February and March, males aged 25-54 saw their employment level stay steady at 100.4% of pre-COVID levels, while the employment level for males aged 15-24 improved by 1.4 percentage points to 91.3 per cent of pre-COVID levels. Males aged 55 and over had already attained 104.7 per cent of their pre-COVID employment in February 2021, with a further improvement to 108.4 per cent in March 2021.

Females also experienced employment gains across broad age groups in March. Females aged 15-24 saw an increase in employment between February 2021 and March 2021 of 3.7 percentage points to achieve 81.3 per cent of their pre-COVID employment, however the group remains farthest away from this marker. Females aged 24-54 saw their percentage of pre-COVID employment increase by 1.6 percentage points and remain the female group closest to pre-COVID employment. Females aged 55 and over saw an improvement in employment for the third month in a row to reach 89.6 per cent of pre-COVID employment in March.

* 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 March are for the week of March 14 to 20, 2021.
  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 7, 2021.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey Estimates, released April 9, 2021.

Related downloads for this release:

Monthly Labour Force Survey report - PDF (100KB)

Date de publication : 
le 9 Avril 2021

Renseignements généraux

Ministère des Finances
Immeuble Shaw, 2e étage (sud)
95, rue Rochford
C.P. 2000
Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.) C1A 7N8

Téléphone : 902-368-4040
Télécopieur : 902-368-6575