Impacts of COVID-19 on Employment: 101 Sectors in Four Colours

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8 April 2021, 10:50 a.m.

Disponible en français.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the related business restrictions and lockdown measures decreased employment in Canada by 16% from February to April 2020. By February 2021, one year after the pandemic started, total employment was at 97% of its February 2020 level.

The pandemic’s effect on employment can be analyzed using various parameters, such as age and ethnicity. This HillNote focuses on the pandemic’s effect on employment by industry. A future note may examine the differences by other parameters, such as gender.

The Canadian Economy’s Industries in Colour

In order to parallel the colour codes some provinces are using to explain the severity of their public health measures, this HillNote assigns the same colours (green, yellow, orange and red) to the 101 industries of the Canadian economy depending on the severity of their employment losses in the past year. These 101 industries combine smaller industries in the same area of activity that experienced similar employment changes. However, it is important to note that changes in employment are not always due solely to the pandemic and employment in some industries has been stagnant or declining for many years. Figure 1 summarizes the employment situation for each colour code.

Figure 1 – Summary of the Employment Situation by Colour Code

Question Green Yellow Orange Red
How are colours assigned to industries? The industry is in green if employment stayed unchanged or increased from February 2020 to February 2021. The industry is in yellow if employment fell between 0% and 3.2% from February 2020 to February 2021. The industry is in orange if employment fell between 3.2% and 10% from February 2020 to February 2021. The industry is in red if employment fell by over 10% from February 2020 to February 2021.
What was the average change in employment between February 2020 and February 2021? On average, employment rose by 8.8%. On average, employment fell by 2.3%. On average, employment fell by 7.7%. On average, employment fell by 22.2%.
What was the share of employment in February 2020? 46.6% 10.1% 17.4% 25.8%
What was the share of employment in February 2021? 52.4% 10.2% 16.6% 20.8%

Source: Table prepared by the author with data from Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Figure 2 shows total employment in February 2021 compared with February 2021 levels, sorted by industry and colour.

Figure 2 – Employment Level, February 2021, by Industry and Colour

Industry Employment,
February 2021
(February 2020 = 100)
Manufacturing of cereal, sugar, canned goods, fish products, animal food and other foods 146.4
Delivery services 135.7
Jewellery stores, florist shops and bookstores 134.4
Petroleum products and food merchant wholesalers 134.0
Printing and related support activities 131.7
Water and pipeline transportation 130.6
Non-store retailers (Internet, catalogue or other sales) 128.1
Telecommunications and other information services 126.8
Community and rehabilitation services 122.6
Specialized design services 122.1
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing 122.1
Defence, Aboriginal and international public administration 121.4
Oil and gas extraction 120.8
Motion pictures, music, radio, television 120.1
Waste management and remediation services 119.0
Legal services 118.8
School and employee bus transportation 117.8
Heavy and civil engineering construction 116.7
Manufacturing of chemical and plastic products 116.4
Community colleges and CEGEPs 116.4
Natural gas and water and sewage systems 116.2
Computer systems design and related services 115.6
Ambulatory health care and laboratory services 112.4
Software publishers 110.0
Oilseed and grain farming 108.9
Machinery manufacturing 108.7
Elementary and secondary schools 107.8
Fishing and support activities for agriculture and forestry 107.6
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers 107.3
Transportation equipment manufacturing 107.1
Wood product manufacturing 106.8
Finance and insurance 105.8
Provincial administration 105.2
Management, scientific and technical consulting services 104.3
Electronics and appliance stores 104.2
Building equipment and finishing contractors 103.9
Religious, giving and business organizations 103.9
Accounting 103.7
Postal service 103.7
Federal government administration 103.2
Clothing and leather product manufacturing 102.3
Personal goods and sundries merchant wholesalers 102.3
Universities 102.3
Hospitals and health care facilities 102.3
Advertising 101.3
Department stores 100.0
Sporting goods and hobby stores 99.2
Health and personal care stores 98.5
Scientific research and development services 98.3
Municipal administration 98.0
Electric power generation, transmission and distribution 97.9
Motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts merchant wholesalers 97.8
Other crop farming (e.g., tobacco, sugar beets, hay, agave, herbs and spices, mint, hops, maple sap) 97.4
Truck transportation 97.2
Offices of health professionals 97.2
Forestry and logging 97.1
Private household services (housekeepers, gardeners) 95.3
Repair and maintenance excluding motor vehicles 95.1
Real estate and rental services 94.9
Construction of residential buildings 94.4
Investigation and security services 93.8
Individual and family services 93.8
Construction and machinery equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers 93.6
Fabricated metal and metal product manufacturing 93.2
Services to buildings and dwellings 92.6
Architectural services 91.8
Cattle ranching and farming 91.5
Automotive repair and maintenance 91.4
Food and beverage stores 91.3
Mining (except oil and gas) 90.7
Other transit and transportation 90.5
Travel arrangement and reservation services 89.4
Miscellaneous product stores 89.3
Textiles and miscellaneous manufacturing 87.3
Personal and laundry services 85.7
Beverage and tobacco product manufacturing 85.4
Other administration and employment services 84.5
Furniture and home furnishings stores 84.3
Electrical equipment manufacturing 84.1
Paper and petroleum product manufacturing 84.0
Warehousing 83.9
Other schools and educational services 83.7
Furniture and related product manufacturing 83.5
Construction of non-residential buildings 83.0
Rail transportation 79.3
Fruit and vegetable, greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production 76.9
Foundation and specialty trade contractors 76.6
Food services and drinking places 76.5
Taxi and limousine service 76.3
Child day-care services 76.3
Dairy, meat and bakery product manufacturing 75.8
Farm and automotive product merchant wholesalers 74.8
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 74.7
Clothing and shoe stores 73.5
Newspaper publishers and data processing 67.5
Animal production and aquaculture (excluding cattle farming) 66.4
Gasoline stations 64.7
Air transportation 64.3
Performing arts, heritage institutions and amusement 62.9
Accommodation services 59.2

Source: Table prepared by the author with data from Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey (LFS).


The COVID-19 pandemic affected employment in different parts of the economy to very different degrees. Employment in green industries was 9% higher in February 2021 than in February 2020, but 22% lower in red ones.

Author: André Léonard, Library of Parliament

Categories: COVID-19, Economics and finance, Employment and labour

Tags: , , , ,

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