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Canada shed 200,000 jobs in January, first time in nine months

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Canada shed 200,000 jobs in January as reintroduced public health restrictions to slow the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant forced many businesses to close temporarily, a government agency showed Friday.

That pushed up the unemployment rate 0.5 percentage points to 6.5 percent, Statistics Canada said in a statement.

It was the first increase since last spring when the economy began to rebound and recover jobs lost in the pandemic upheaval.

The jobs data, commented Desjardins analyst Royce Mendes, “was worse than the consensus had predicted.”

But he noted a bright spot: outside of high-touched sectors such as accommodation and food services, “employment actually held up well in January,” with the goods sector adding jobs, for example.

“Moreover, virus-related hospitalisations appear to have peaked at the national level, which has allowed provincial governments to ease restrictions and made Canadians feel a bit safer about venturing out of their homes again,” Mendes said in a research note.

“That’s the beginnings of a recipe for another swift post-Covid-wave rebound.”

Statistics Canada said most of the job losses during the fifth wave of the pandemic were in Ontario and Quebec and affected mostly youth and women, entirely in the private sector.

They were spread across both part-time (-117,000) and full-time (-83,000) work.

The government agency also noted that absences from work due to illness or disability — which tend to be highest in the winter season — reached a record high of one in 10 in January amid the Omicron outbreak.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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