Manitoba gained 5,500 jobs in the first month of the year, according to Statistic Canada’s latest labour force survey.
The province’s net gains came from full-time work which saw an increase of about 16,000 jobs, offset by about 10,400 job losses in part-time employment.
“That’s a good sign,” said Fletcher Barager, associate professor of economics at the University of Manitoba. “It reflects that after two months of employment losses that there’s been some stabilization and indeed some gradual bounce back.”
Manitoba’s unemployment rate saw little change in January, holding steady at eight per cent province-wide.
For youth workers, though, the unemployment rate is far higher.
Among men aged 15-24 the unemployment rate is 18 per cent. For women in the same age group the unemployment rate is even higher at 19.6 per cent.
But, Barager notes, next to all of the full-time job gains in January were among youth workers and women over the age of twenty-five, a sign things may be improving.
“Hopefully the data from last month proves to be more of a trend than a single one-off,” he said.
In the meantime, however, some young workers are struggling to find employment.
“The job losses we’ve experienced is disproportionately in entry-level positions which is one of the reasons youth are struggling right now,” said Kelsey Evans, executive director at Youth Employment Services in Winnipeg.
Pandemic restrictions tied to the retail, hospitality and restaurant industry are also making it difficult for young Manitobans, says Evans, as those sectors tend to offer more part-time employment opportunities.
“We’re just not seeing as many openings right now as things remain closed,” she said, “Definitely that’s something the youth are experiencing.”
The same restrictions are also making it harder for women to get into (or back into) the labour force, says Jacqueline Wall, executive director at Taking Charge! Inc., a non-profit that helps single parents and women find employment.
“Many of the women are attracted to the restaurant business or retail,” said Wall, “and many of those businesses have reduced operations, therefore access to those types of employment opportunities are limited.”
On a more positive note, Wall has seen an uptick in women pursuing post-secondary education amid the pandemic.
But many of the same employment struggles are also being felt for students, a chunk of the labour force that usually takes up part-time work during the school year.
“After Christmas a lot of those (part-time) jobs do go away,” said Deanna Pereles, academic and career advisor at the University of Winnipeg, explaining how January typically does see a downturn in part-time employment opportunities.
Pereles does say that, overall, it has been harder for students to find part-time jobs, particularly those in a professional setting related to fields students may pursue after graduation.
“We are still finding students are having quite a bit of trouble especially right now finding that employment,” she said.