UBC economists analyze initial impacts of COVID-19 on labour market

To better understand Canada’s path to economic recovery, UBC researchers have documented the initial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market.

Vancouver School of Economics Professors Thomas Lemieux and Kevin Milligan, along with researchers from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, find COVID-19 drove a 32 per cent reduction in entire weekly hours worked between February and April 2020, alongside a 15 percent reduction in employment. Almost 80 percent of job losses are attributed to workers with earnings in the bottom half of the weekly earning distribution, and these losses primarily represented in the most public-facing occupations (The sales and services occupations experienced a 45 percent decline in hours and 27 percent decline in employment).

The employment losses are mainly distributed to workers paid hourly, non-union workers, and younger workers aged 20 to 29.

Based on these results, the researchers discuss how policy design should consider both the supply and demand sides of the labour market going forward.

Their findings have been published in a special issue of Canadian Public Policy, viewed here: https://bit.ly/2C8NZFJ