Majority of Canada’s Pandemic Job Losses Were People Without University Degrees

Canada’s job losses varied by educational attainment according to Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data in December 2020. The stats show those with the least amount of education, exited the workforce in the greatest number. The number of people employed with university degrees, actually climbed during the period.

Canadian Jobs Are Down Significantly Since The Pandemic 

The number of employed Canadians with known educational attainment is down significantly. There were 18.43 million employed in December, down 107,500 (0.58%) jobs from a month before. Compared to February this represents a decline of 417,500 (2.21%) jobs. That’s a significant job loss, one would assume is large enough to touch most areas. However, educational attainment made a big difference. 

Canadian Employment Change By Education

The net change in Canadian employment from February to December 2020, by the highest level of education achieved.
Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.

Those with the least amount of education represented the bulk of job losses. Those employed with “some high school” education declined by 108,700 jobs from February to December. The amount was almost a quarter of the net loss, despite being only 5.8% of the workforce. Those with a high school degree dropped by 174,300 jobs over the same period. That’s the equivalent of 41.8% of losses, despite being only 17.4% of the workforce. More than half of employment declines were those with a high school education or less.

The type of education one pursued after high school also may have made a difference. Those with some post-secondary education, saw employment decline by 80,600 jobs from February to December. Those with a post secondary diploma or certificate, declined by 284,700 over the same period. One would assume trade jobs are disproportionately impacted by lockdowns, due to the physical nature. It’s not clear how many of the losses are permanent, due to things like shuttering restaurants.

Canadians Employed With Degrees Increased During The Pandemic

People with university degrees may be a little better off in this environment. Those employed with a university degree increased 290,300 from February to December. Yes, that’s a net increase according to Stat Can. This may imply more of these jobs were able to adapt to a locked down environment. Possibly even showing growth over the period.

Part of the lower educational layoff trend is likely due to demographics. Those with lower educational attainment are likely to be a little older, and took the opportunity to retire. Those people would be replaced with people at least carrying a high school education. Even so, the majority of the job losses are mostly due to lockdowns and travel restrictions. This would make sense that those in a knowledge economy were less impacted by working from home.

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