Manitoba’s unemployment doubles in two months amid COVID-19

Unemployment doubled while tens of thousands of Manitobans lost their jobs in the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest numbers from Statistics Canada show.

Manitoba’s unemployment rate rose from 5.2 per cent in February to 6.4 per cent in March.

In April it rose further to 11.4 per cent, according to Statistics Canada figures released Friday.

That equates to about 37,000 more unemployed people in a two-month span that saw public health orders shutter much of the economy.

Meanwhile, Manitoba lost 64,200 jobs total in April.

It’s a stark number, a University of Manitoba economist said.

“I can’t say I was surprised but it’s a pretty bleak picture,” Fletcher Baragar said. “What’s just so striking is… to really see on the chart the hard reality of the numbers, just how precipitous of a drop the employment numbers were.”

Baragar notes that’s both in Manitoba and Canada — over one million jobs were lost across the country in March alone, while nearly two million more were lost in April.

“In terms of dropping so far, so fast, that’s unprecedented. I don’t think anything really compares with that. We’ve had recessions before, there was obviously a big depression in the 1930s, but nothing like this,” he said, noting the Great Depression saw people lose their jobs over a period of about three years, rather than less than two months.

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