Ontario loses 355,000 jobs in 2020, single largest decline on record: FAO

covid closure

Ontario lost more than 355,000 jobs last year - the single largest annual decline on record - due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the province's fiscal watchdog said Thursday.

In addition to the job losses, more than 765,000 Ontarians saw their work hours reduced, Financial Accountability Officer Peter Weltman said in a new report that looked at the impact COVID-19 and the public health measures to fight it have had on communities.

`This is a very different type of recession,'' Weltman said. ``We've seen a lot of people exit the labour force because a lot of them weren't going to look for jobs in areas that have been hammered, or had other concerns about going back into a labor force while there was a pandemic in play.''

The report concluded that unlike previous recessions, the hardest hit sector was accommodation and food services, with over 110,000 job losses.

With a requirement for close contact, jobs were lost on a faster pace compared to goods-producing industries, the report notes.

Weltman said young workers, aged 15 to 24, saw the largest increase in unemployment, with a jump to 22 per cent.