The North Bay area has not felt the economic impacts of COVID-19 quite as bad as the rest of the province, according to a report from the Labour Market Group (LMG).
The report indicates that northeastern Ontario experienced less unemployment all while retaining more jobs through the pandemic than the rest of the province.
Peter Chirico, president of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, says that while population certainly plays a factor, it’s also the spirit of the area to be resilient.
“Many of the entrepreneurs and businesses in northern Ontario certainly were innovative in how they adapted and kept going through. Northern Ontario businesses have always been resilient and have gone through some very difficult times in the past couple of decades,” Chirico said.
Using figures from Statistics Canada, LMG found that June was the peak in numbers of unemployment with a rate of 12.5 percent. Northeastern Ontario’s unemployment rate was at 10.5 percent in June, which was the highest it has been during the pandemic.
Following the trend into August, the provincial unemployment rate hovered around 12.1 percent whereas regionally, the unemployment decreased to 8.6 percent.
Within the “northeast region” (Nipissing, Parry Sound, Cochrane, Timiskaming, Sudbury, Manitoulin and Algoma, and the City of Greater Sudbury) the LMG also broke down the numbers as they pertain to Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and the “rest of the northeast region” which include the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts.
LMG found that the “rest of the northeast region” recorded its peak of unemployment earlier than Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, and has since recovered the quickest, with the lowest unemployment rate at around 8 percent as of August. Sudbury’s sits at just under 9 percent while Sault Ste. Marie’s has remained high at around 11 percent, both also as of August.
Northeastern Ontario was also found to have lost fewer overall jobs throughout the pandemic in all but one reported industry.
Manufacturing, accommodation and hospitality, and wholesale and retail trade are all industries that did not lose as many jobs as the rest of the province. In wholesale/retail trade, 92 percent of jobs in northeastern Ontario were retained compared to 84 percent at the provincial level.
In hospitality/accommodation, the rate bottomed out at 61 percent at its lowest compared to 57 percent provincially; however, the northeast region has since climbed back up to over 90 percent while the provincial rate remains at just above 70 percent.
In manufacturing, the northeast region has actually grown its workforce while the rest of the province has seen a decline. As of August, northeastern Ontario has 150 percent of the manufacturing jobs as in January. Provincially, manufacturing jobs dropped to below 90 percent of the January numbers but have since recovered to be on par with the beginning of the year.
The lone sector where the northeast region has seen lower job numbers than the provincial average is in construction. In May, construction jobs in the northeast dropped to around 75 percent while the province remained around 90 percent. As of August, Ontario has restored most of its construction jobs while the northeast hovers below 90 percent.