January to December, 2020
On this page Skip this page navigation
About the Ontario Employment Report – January to December, 2020
The Ontario Employment Report is released four times a year and provides an assessment of the current trends and developments in the Ontario labour market. The Ontario Employment Report is a companion report to the Ontario Economic Accounts, which provides an overall assessment of the current state of the Ontario economy.
The report for the fourth quarter of 2020 provides an assessment of Ontario’s labour market for the entire year, comparing annual averages, while the approach used in earlier quarterly reports was to measure year-over-year changes in quarterly data.
In the current issue, year-over-year change represents change between 2019 and 2020. Longer-term trends are included for select labour market characteristics and provide historical context.
All estimates in the report are based on Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS), which measures the current state of the national, provincial and territorial labour market. The LFS is based on a household survey carried out monthly by Statistics Canada in reference weeks of the month. All estimates in this report include the population aged 15 years and over, unless otherwise indicated.
Impact of COVID‑19 on the labour market
Ontario's labour market has experienced unprecedented changes in 2020 as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Beginning in mid-March, a number of travel restrictions, business closures and physical distancing measures were put in place by various levels of government to help contain the spread of COVID‑19 and protect the health of Ontarians. As a result of the pandemic, there was a sharp decline in employment between February to May, which was more severe compared to previous recessions.
In June, employment started to rebound reflecting the early stages of reopening the provincial economy. Employment growth slowed from September to December as Ontario introduced additional targeted public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID‑19 and save lives.
The report compares estimates of annual averages in the previous two years since there was a lot of volatility in the monthly employment data in 2020. While employment declined by 4.8% in 2020 compared to 2019, it decreased by 15.1% from February through May and then increased by 11.8% from May through December relative to February levels.
Key labour market indicators, 2020
- -355,300 net jobs in 2020, year-over-year
- -202,900 net full-time jobs in 2020, year-over-year
- 9.6% in 2020
- 63.6% in 2020
Employment change by province, 2020
In 2020, Ontario’s employment decreased by 4.8% (-355,300), less than the Canadian average (-5.2%) and the largest annual decline on record.
Ontario’s labour market, 1976-2020
In 2020, the unemployment rate in Ontario increased to 9.6%, slightly above the Canadian rate (9.5%) and the highest rate since 1995. The annual increase in the unemployment rate (+4.0 percentage points) was the highest on record.
The participation rate declined by 1.3 percentage points to 63.6%, below the Canadian rate (64.1%).
Highlights in 2020
- Employment decreased among both part-time and full-time workers.
- The private sector and the self-employed experienced the largest decline in employment.
- Employment declined in both the services-producing and goods-producing industries with the largest losses in accommodation and food services, along with wholesale and retail trade.
- Employment declined in all the five regions, with the Greater Toronto Area recording the largest employment decreases and highest unemployment rate.
- Part-time and low-wage workers, recent immigrants, those without a high school diploma, youth, and women experienced relatively larger employment declines.
- Weekly hours worked decreased for both full- and part-time workers and there were substantially more workers working reduced hours.
- The average hourly wage of employees was $30.24, an increase of 6.3% after accounting for inflation.
Type of work
Employment change by full-time, part-time status, 2020
In 2020, employment in Ontario decreased by 4.8%, which reflects declines in both full-time (-202,900, -3.4%) and part-time positions (-152,300, -11.1%).
Employment change by employment sector, 2020
The private sector had the largest decline in employment (-288,600, -6.0%), followed by self-employment (-50,100, -4.3%) and the public sector
Industry and occupation
In 2020, employment declined in both goods-producing (-56,600, -3.9%) and services-producing (-298,800, -5.1%) industries.
Employment change by industry, goods-producing industries, 2020
Among goods-producing industries, forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas was the only industry to add jobs (+2.8%). Construction (-4.7%) saw the largest decrease in employment, followed by manufacturing (-3.2%).
Employment change by industry, services-producing industries, 2020
Among services-producing industries, finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (+2.8%) and public administration (+2.4%) gained jobs, while the other major industries registered employment declines. Accommodation and food services had the largest decline in employment (-24.7%), followed by wholesale and retail trade (-5.6%).
Employment change by occupational group, 2020
Among broad occupational groups, natural and applied sciences (+5.0%) saw the largest increase in employment followed by health (+1.7%) and natural resources and agriculture (+0.8%). All other occupational groups experienced a decline in employment, with job losses concentrated in sales and service (-10.8%) and trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations (-6.5%).
Employment change by region, 2020
In 2020, employment declined across all Ontario regions. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) experienced the largest employment decrease (-166,500); however, Eastern Ontario experienced the greatest percentage decline in employment (-5.8%), followed by Southwestern Ontario (-4.8%).
Unemployment rate by region, 2020
In 2020, the unemployment rate increased in every region. The GTA had the highest unemployment rate (10.7%), while Eastern Ontario had the lowest unemployment rate (7.7%).
Participation rate by region, 2020
In 2020, the participation rate decreased in every region. The GTA had the highest participation rate (65.8%), while Northern Ontario had the lowest participation rate (58.4%).
Employment change by age group and gender, 2020
In 2020, employment declines occurred in all age groups and for both females and males. Females (-5.8%) experienced a greater decline in employment compared to males (-3.9%). Employment levels decreased the most for core-aged workers, aged 25 to 54 years, (-175,200, -3.7%), but youth registered the greatest percentage decline in employment (-15.5%).
Employment change by education level, 25 to 54 years, 2020
Among the core-aged population, employment declined for all levels of education, except for university graduates (+2.5%). Those with less than a high school credential experienced the greatest percentage decline in employment (-11.4%).
Employment change by immigrant status, 25 to 54 years, 2020
In 2020, both landed immigrants and those born in Canada experienced a decline in employment, with core-aged recent immigrants recording the greatest percentage decline in employment (-8.2%), followed by established immigrants (-6.9%), very recent immigrants (-3.1%), and those born in Canada (-2.3%).
Real hourly wage growth by type of work, 2020
In 2020, the average hourly wage of Ontario employees was $30.24 per hour, an increase of 7.0% or 6.3% in real terms
While the average wage increases in 2020 were in part due to some workers getting higher pay, they were also a result of the change in the composition of employment. Employment decreases in 2020 were concentrated in relatively lower-paying industries, such as accommodation and food services and wholesale and retail trade.
Average hourly wage by occupational group, 2020
In 2020, employees in management occupations had the highest average hourly wage ($49.04), followed by natural and applied sciences and related occupations ($39.99) and occupations in education, law and social, community and government services ($37.41). Employees in sales and service occupations had the lowest average hourly wage ($19.79).
Employment change by hourly wage, 2020
Employment of workers earning less than $40 per hour was lower and there were more workers earning $40 or more per hour (+15.5%). Employment of those earning less than $20 per hour decreased the most (-19.8%), followed by those earning $20.00 to $39.99 per hour (-2.3%).
Total weekly hours worked, 1997-2020
In 2020, total weekly hours worked
Employment by reduced hours, 1997-2020
In 2020, there were over 562,600 employees who worked zero hours,
Average actual hours worked by worker status, worked in reference week, all jobs, 2019 and 2020
Those who worked part-time worked 17.7 hours per week, a decline of 0.5 hours compared to 2019. Those who worked full-time worked 39.4 hours per week, a decline of 0.4 hours compared to 2019. However, the average total hours worked remained unchanged, in part due to the greater declines in part-time employment.
Unemployment rate by province, 2020
In 2020, all provinces experienced a substantially higher unemployment rate compared to 2019. Ontario’s unemployment rate rose to 9.6% in 2020, a 4.0 percentage points increase compared to 2019. Ontario had the fifth lowest unemployment rate among the ten provinces and was slightly above the Canadian rate of 9.5%. Manitoba had the lowest unemployment rate (8.0%) and Newfoundland and Labrador the highest (14.1%).
Unemployment rate by age group, 1997-2020
In 2020, the unemployment rate increased for all age groups. Youth aged 15 to 24 years had the highest unemployment rate (22.0%, +10.0 percentage points) followed by the core-aged population aged 25 to 54 years (7.7%, +3.1 percentage points) and the older population aged 55 years and over (7.0%, +2.8 percentage points).
Share of long-term unemployment, 1997-2020
Long-term unemployment (unemployed for 27 weeks or more) as a share of total unemployment decreased from 15.0% in 2019 to 14.7% in 2020, as most newly unemployed people were unemployed for a relatively short time. The incidence of long-term unemployment has been on a declining trend after reaching 24.9% in 2010.
The average duration of unemployment in 2020 was 15.3 weeks, 0.5 weeks lower than in 2019.
Participation rate by province, 2020
In 2020, Ontario’s participation rate for people aged 15 years and over was 63.6%, a decrease of 1.3 percentage points, compared to 2019. The participation rate in Ontario was lower than the Canadian rate by 0.5 percentage point and ranked sixth (along with British Columbia) out of the ten provinces. Participation rates in all other provinces also declined in 2020.
While Ontario’s participation rate has been on the decline since at least the early 2000s in part due to an aging population, the decrease in the participation rate in 2020 (-1.3 percentage point) was sharper compared to previous years. In 2020, the number of people who wanted work but were not part of the labour force more than doubled (+177,200, +128.4%).
Participation rate by gender, 2020
In 2020, the participation rate of males decreased by 1.1 percentage points to 68.4%, continuing a long-term decline and reaching the lowest level on record. The participation rate of females declined by 1.5 percentage points in 2020, to 58.9%, the lowest level since 1997.
Participation rate by age group, 1997-2020
In 2020, the participation rate of the core-aged population decreased by 1.2 percentage points to 84.9%. The participation rate of youth decreased by 2.7 percentage points to 58.8%, the lowest rate on record. While the participation rate of the older population aged 55 years and over has been steadily increasing over the past 15 years, it decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 37.9% in 2020.
10-year overview of annual employment
|Total Labour Force (000)||7,207.3||7,238.7||7,325.1||7,345.3||7,343.0||7,408.9||7,506.5||7,608.9||7,816.3||7,766.0|
|Participation Rate (%)||66.5||66.0||66.1||65.7||65.1||64.9||64.7||64.3||64.9||63.6|
|Male Participation Rate (%)||71.1||70.7||70.5||70.2||70.0||69.6||69.3||68.8||69.5||68.4|
|Female Participation Rate (%)||62.0||61.5||61.9||61.3||60.5||60.4||60.2||60.1||60.4||58.9|
|Total Employment (000)||6,638.2||6,666.7||6,768.1||6,809.1||6,845.4||6,921.4||7,052.5||7,173.3||7,376.9||7,021.6|
|Employment-Population Ratio (%)||61.2||60.8||61.1||60.9||60.7||60.6||60.8||60.6||61.2||57.5|
|Male Employment (000)||3,449.1||3,470.1||3,508.9||3,549.1||3,583.9||3,622.6||3,692.1||3,760.6||3,874.7||3,722.1|
|Female Employment (000)||3,189.1||3,196.6||3,259.1||3,260.1||3,261.4||3,298.8||3,360.4||3,412.7||3,502.2||3,299.6|
|Part-Time (% of total)||19.2||19.2||19.5||19.4||18.8||18.9||19.0||18.5||18.7||17.4|
|Goods-Producing Sector Employment (000)||1,397.4||1,406.8||1,381.0||1,366.4||1,393.8||1,425.1||1,439.4||1,463.9||1,467.3||1,410.7|
|Services-Producing Sector Employment (000)||5,240.8||5,259.9||5,387.1||5,442.7||5,451.6||5,496.3||5,613.1||5,709.5||5,909.7||5,610.9|
|Private Sector Employment (000)||4,331.1||4,347.1||4,405.3||4,473.5||4,505.5||4,544.1||4,640.1||4,716.7||4,830.6||4,542.0|
|Public Sector Employment (000)||1,303.1||1,289.5||1,310.0||1,298.1||1,281.2||1,293.7||1,318.8||1,359.7||1,375.4||1,358.8|
|Self-Employment (% of total)||15.1||15.4||15.6||15.2||15.5||15.7||15.5||15.3||15.9||16.0|
|Total Unemployment (000)||569.1||572.0||557.1||536.1||497.6||487.5||454.0||435.5||439.4||744.4|
|Unemployment Rate (%)||7.9||7.9||7.6||7.3||6.8||6.6||6.0||5.7||5.6||9.6|
|Male Unemployment Rate (%)||8.2||8.2||8.0||7.5||7.0||6.8||6.3||5.7||5.8||9.2|
|Female Unemployment Rate (%)||7.6||7.5||7.2||7.1||6.5||6.3||5.8||5.7||5.5||10.0|
|Long-Term (27 wks+) (% of total)||24.3||22.8||23.1||22.9||20.0||20.0||19.5||16.9||15.0||14.7|
|Average Unemployment in Weeks||22.5||22.3||21.9||22.5||20.0||20.0||19.3||17.2||15.8||15.3|
|Youth Unemployment Rate (%)||15.5||16.6||15.9||15.2||14.3||13.7||12.2||11.8||12.0||22.0|
|25-54 y.o. Unemployment rate (%)||6.6||6.5||6.3||6.0||5.6||5.5||5.1||4.8||4.6||7.7|
|55+ y.o. Unemployment rate (%)||6.1||5.9||5.6||5.5||5.0||5.0||4.6||4.3||4.2||7.0|
|Average Weekly Wage Rate ($)||862.69||883.62||896.44||907.05||938.01||958.16||965.71||998.41||1,033.38||1,113.99|
|Average Hourly Wage Rate ($)||23.56||24.10||24.50||24.81||25.58||26.13||26.38||27.28||28.26||30.24|
Employment by region (000)
|Greater Toronto Area||3,074.9||3,099.6||3,214.9||3,202.7||3,264.8||3,303.9||3,363.5||3,432.8||3,548.3||3,381.8|
Unemployment rate by region (%)
|Greater Toronto Area||8.4||8.8||8.2||8.0||7.1||7.0||6.5||6.2||6.0||10.7|
Total employment by CMA (000)
Greater Toronto Area
Note: All estimates in this appendix are based on Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey.
- footnote Back to paragraph Since 1976, as this is the earliest year of the Labour Force Survey data available on statcan.gc.ca.
- footnote Back to paragraph Public sector includes the federal, provincial, territorial and local general governments, health and social service institutions, universities, colleges, vocational and trade institutions, school boards, and government business enterprises.
- footnote Back to paragraph Real wages are based on nominal wages deflated by the Ontario Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all items. Self-employment is excluded.
- footnote Back to paragraph Employment by hourly wage data are obtained from the Labour Force Survey Public Use Microdata Files. Comparisons are based on nominal wages.
- footnote Back to paragraph This is a 12-month average of the total number of hours actually worked by all employed persons in the Labour Force Survey reference weeks.
- footnote Back to paragraph Employed, worked zero hours includes employees and self-employed who were absent from work all week, but excludes people who have been away for reasons such as 'vacation,' 'maternity,' 'seasonal business 'and labour dispute.'
- footnote Back to paragraph Employed, worked less than half of their usual hours includes both employees and self-employed, where only employees were asked to provide a reason for the absence. This excludes reasons for absence such as 'vacation,' 'labour dispute,' 'maternity,' 'holiday,' and 'weather.' Also excludes those who were away all week.
- footnote Back to paragraph This analysis includes only those workers that were at work during the Labour Force Survey reference week. When all employed persons are included, the average actual hours across all jobs were 31.6, the lowest average on record.