Canada’s unemployment rate falls below pre-pandemic levels for the first time

By Claire Fenton and The Canadian Press

Statistics Canada says more than 335,000 new jobs were created last month, more than experts had predicted.

The surge has brought the unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent, down a point from January, and even lower than in February 2020.

Employment gains in February were highest in the accommodation and food services sectors due to the relaxing of some COVID-19 restrictions, according to the agency.

The employment rate of men increased to the highest level since November 1981 to 88 per cent.

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“Among core-aged women, whose employment rate has been increasing over several decades, the employment rate reached a new record high of 81.0%,” a release from Statistics Canada said. 

However, February was lower among visible minority women.

Indigenous men and women also saw a drastic increase among the employment sector, with Indigenous men up five percentage points to 78 per cent compared to two years ago. While the employment rate for Indigenous women is still below men, it did jump significantly over the same period to 75 per cent.

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate would have been 7.4 per cent last month had it included in calculations people who wanted a job but did not look for one.

“The number of Canadians who had been continuously unemployed for 27 weeks or more fell for the fourth consecutive month in February, down by 51,000 to 212,000. Following this drop, long-term unemployment was 32,000 higher than in February 2020,” the agency said.

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