job loss ontario

Ontario just posted the largest number of job losses in recorded history

It's no secret that 2020 was a particularly difficult year for residents of Ontario and people all over the world thanks to the pandemic and  subsequent government-imposed lockdowns, and a new report indicates that Ontario actually saw the largest annual decline in employment on record last year.

The report, released by the province's Financial Accountability Office (FAO) this week, suggests that Ontario lost 355,300 jobs in 2020, causing the province's annual unemployment rate to jump to 9.6 per cent — the highest it's been since 1993.

"The rise in the unemployment rate in 2020 was tempered by a surge in individuals who left the labour force and as a result were not counted as unemployed," notes the report

"Due to these exits, the province's labour force participation rate dropped to 63.6 per cent, down sharply from 64.9 per cent in 2019 and the lowest rate on record."

And on top of record job losses and record low labour force participation, an increasing number of Ontarians worked far fewer hours last year, bringing the total number of employees affected by the pandemic to just over 765,000 (about one in 10 jobs).

It will likely come as no surprise to members of the public that unlike previous recessions, the service sector lost jobs at a faster pace compared to goods-producing industries.

"More than half of the total job losses in Ontario were concentrated in industries facing significant pandemic-related restrictions, including accommodation and food services (-110,700), retail trade (-47,000), and transportation and warehousing (-38,200)," notes the report.

Young workers were also particularly affected by the pandemic, accounting for about four in 10 jobs lost in the province.

Employment among workers between the ages of 15 and 24 fell to the lowest level in two decades, while the unemployment rate for this group jumped to 22 per cent — the highest on record.

Also unsurprising is the fact that women experienced larger job losses compared to men across all major age groups, with 202,600 jobs lost (-5.8 per cent) by female workers compared with 152,600 (-3.9 per cent) lost by male employees.

"Nearly one-fifth of core-age (25-54) mothers with children under the age of 18 were absent from work," reads the report, "more than twice the share of absence among fathers (9.1 per cent)."

Of all Ontario cities, Peterborough (-13.5 per cent) and Windsor (-10.9 per cent) experienced the steepest employment losses, according to the report, while Barrie (0.6 per cent) and London (1.3 per cent) posted small annual job gains.

Employees in low-wage jobs meanwhile saw their employment decline by 27 per cent, while employment in other wage categories increased by 1.4 per cent — proving just how disporportionately hard low-income workers in Ontario have been hit by the pandemic.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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