“The variations between industry employment levels really shows how this pandemic is not targeting any one sector over another,” says Charlene Hofbauer, Executive Director of the Workforce Planning Board. “Sudden employment drops in industries that seemed to be surging just 5 months ago demonstrate that any industry could face an uncertain future. In some cases, these drops are due to restructuring or shifts in demand and in other cases, such as with health care, we may be facing a workforce that is not participating in opportunities which will have long-term implications for those sectors.”
Loss industries (comparing March 2020 to January 2021)
Accommodation and food services: Inclusive of hotels and restaurant, this industry has seen employment fall from 17,200 people to 8,000 people employed over this time frame. The losses in the first month of the first lockdown have been repeated in the first month of the second lockdown. Locally, this industry did not increase staffing numbers over the summer as happened in other parts of the Economic Region.
Educational services: This sector includes the postsecondary schools, school boards and private educational groups, and has also seen a fall in employment levels. Employment fell from 36,800 employed in March to 29,400 employed in January 2021. These losses have been in many of the operational services of the postsecondary institutions. There has been some rebounding in the sector since November and the 2nd lockdown saw levels rise to 1,200 positions filled.
Growth industries (comparing March 2020 to January 2021)
Construction: Companies in this sector, as a whole, have been able to grow their workforces from 19,900 employed in March 2020 to 20,800 people in January 2021. This second lockdown saw no decline in staffing levels as had happened in the first lockdown. This employment growth favoured men.
Transportation and warehousing: Staffing levels have risen in this sector during the pandemic. In March, 12,700 people worked in the sector, and as of last month, that number has grown to 18,100. The second lockdown has seen the industry grow by 200 people. This employment growth also favoured men.
Health care and social assistance: This industry’s employment growth favoured women. In March, employment in the industry numbered 27,600 people. Last month, that number had grown to 33,000, but overall trends show that employment levels have been declining since October. In the first month of the second lockdown, employment fell 1,300 people – a worrying trend during a pandemic.
Retail Trade: This industry has seen an overall decline in employment levels from 35,200 to 33,300 over the time period. However, there has been steady growth in employment levels with women driving most of the rise. January, the full month of lockdown, saw employment drop 1,600 but women’s employment in the sector that month surged 2,000 positions. Many people leaving or losing roles in the industry are men.
Manufacturing: Again, overall employment is down in Waterloo Region in the industry from 57,000 in March to 53,300 in January. The industry had high employment levels over the summer but there has been a declining trend since then. Employment levels during that first month echoed the employment drop during the lockdown in April 2020.