- In March, the Québec City census metropolitan area’s (CMA) labour market lost 3,500 jobs (-0.8%) from February, the third consecutive decrease.
- Nevertheless, the number of people employed in March 2021 represents 98% of the jobs registered in Québec City before the COVID-19 crisis (February 2020). This deficit is comparable to other major Canadian regions.
- The unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% in the region in March, the lowest rate in Canada.
- Comparable data for the province of Quebec shows that the number of jobs grew by 13,600 from February to March. Thus, the province of Quebec has regained 96.5% of its pre-pandemic employment level.
Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS) data for March shows the labour market conditions during the week of March 14 to 20, 2021. Compared to February, March data reflects the loosening of the public health restrictions, including the reopening of movie theatres on February 26 and the reopening of performance halls, gyms and restaurants on March 8. Therefore, the effect of the new special emergency measures in the Québec City region can only be observed as of next month.
Employment declines in March
According to Statistics Canada, there were 426,200 people employed in the Québec City CMA in March, 3,500 fewer than in February (-0.8%). This result is below those observed in the province of Quebec (+0.3%) and Canada (+0.6%). Compared to the employment level before the COVID-19 crisis, Québec City has a deficit of 8,500 jobs. In other words, the number of jobs in March 2021 represents 98% of the jobs registered in February 2020. This decline places Québec City in the middle of the pack among the eight major Canadian metropolitan areas.
Labour market participation
There were 448,200 people active in the region’s labour market in March, 4,400 fewer than the previous month. This is a decrease of 5,200 people compared to the numbers observed before the pandemic (February 2020). In March 2021, the region’s participation rate was 65.2%, the second-highest rate in the province, behind Montreal. On the other hand, the employment rate reached 62% in the Québec City CMA, the highest rate in the province.
Unemployment remains low
In March, Statistics Canada estimated the region’s unemployment rate at 4.9%, a decrease compared to February (5%). The Québec City CMA has the lowest rate in Canada. The drop in the unemployment rate in March is a result of a faster decline in the labour force than in the employment sector. Note that the region’s unemployment rate was 4.1% before the pandemic (February 2020), and that it had reached 12 % during the first wave.
There were 22,000 unemployed people in Québec City in March, 800 fewer than the previous month. Compared to the beginning of the crisis (February 2020), the region registered an increase of 3,300 unemployed people (+17.6%). This increase is much lower than what was observed in the province of Quebec (+44.9%) and Canada (+48.1%) for the same period.
The available data for the Québec City census metropolitan area (CMA) was given special statistical treatment (three-month moving average) due to the small sample size, which has the effect of mitigating the large fluctuations in the data. Thus, the data collected in January and February influenced the estimations published for March. Please also note that we use comparable data for the province of Quebec and other CMAs in this document. For more information, please see these reminders about moving averages (ISQ, in French only).