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    Review of the labour market in 2020: Québec lost nearly 210,000 jobs due to the pandemic

    Montréal, February 22, 2021. – In 2020, the Québec labour market was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a net loss of 208,500 jobs. As a result, employment decreased by nearly 5% from 2019, the sharpest decline since 1976, when data became available. These are the main findings from the publication État du marché du travail au Québec – Bilan de l’année 2020 made public today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, following the release by Statistics Canada of official final data from the Labour Force Survey for 2020. This publication provides a detailed analysis of the changes in the Québec labour market in 2020.

    The number of unemployed people was nearly 400,000 in 2020, a significant increase from 2019 (+165,000). As for the unemployment rate, it rose from 5.1% in 2019 to 8.9% in 2020.

    Job losses were mostly in the private sector, and both full-time and part-time employment declined

    The jobs lost in 2020 were in the private sector (-178,500) and among the self-employed (-30,300). There was no significant change in public sector employment. In addition, both part-time employment (-106,900) and full-time employment
    (-101,500) declined. However, as a percentage, the decline was greater for part-time employment (-13.0% vs. -2.9%).

    The overall decrease in employment was concentrated in non-unionized employment (-139,800) and in establishments with fewer than 20 employees
    (-127,800).

    Some groups were more affected than others by job losses

    Between 2019 and 2020, more women (-113,100) than men (-95,400) lost their jobs. Still, women’s unemployment rate remained lower than men’s on average (8.6% vs. 9.1%) in 2020.

    Young workers aged 15 to 24 lost about 69,000 jobs, and their unemployment rate doubled between 2019 (8.5%) and 2020 (17.2%). By comparison, in 2020, the unemployment rate was 7.3% for those aged 25 to 54 and 8.3% for those aged 55 and over.

    Employment declined in all the Canadian provinces in 2020

    Across Canada, nearly one million jobs (-986,400) were lost in 2020, which represents a 5.2% decline in employment compared with 2019. Alberta (-6.6%), British Columbia (-6.6%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-5.7%) were the provinces with the largest relative declines.

    The publication État du marché du travail au Québec – Bilan de l’année 2020 also includes sections on Québec’s administrative regions, the immigrant population, industries, hourly earnings, and weekly hours of work. In addition, it puts the 2020 results in perspective with the trends observed over the past 10 years and provides comparisons with the employment situation elsewhere in Canada.


    The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision-makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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