Recent immigrants were more likely than Canadian-born workers and longer-term immigrants to lose their jobs during the pandemic-related lockdowns that shuttered much of Canada’s economy in March and April, according to a study published by the national statistics agency.
The study by Statistics Canada also showed that it took recent immigrants longer than more established immigrants and Canadian-born workers to regain their jobs once the economy began opening up in May, June and July.
As the pandemic hit, the rate of those who lost their jobs due to the shutdowns jumped for all three groups, but much more so among recent immigrants, peaking in April at 17.3 per cent for recent immigrants and 13.5 per cent for the Canadian born and long-term immigrants, the report said.
Female recent immigrants were the hardest hit.
Almost 20 per cent of those employed in March were not employed in April, seven percentage points higher than among Canadian-born women. This gap remained at two points in June but mostly disappeared in July as the rate increased slightly among Canadian-born women, Statistics Canada said.
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The study points to the prevalence of shorter tenure and lower wages among recent immigrants as possible reasons why they were more negatively affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Recent immigrants tend to have shorter job tenure than their Canadian-born counterparts, and workers with short tenure are more susceptible to layoffs during an economic downturn, the study said.
For instance, in February, before the impact of the pandemic, 31 per cent of employed recent immigrants had been in their jobs for less than one year, compared with 15 per cent of Canadian-born workers.
Furthermore, recent immigrants are often much more likely to work in lower paying jobs than Canadian-born workers, and the employment losses in March and April were heavily concentrated among lower paying jobs, according to recent studies cited in the report.
In February, 22 per cent of recent immigrants were in low-wage jobs, compared with 12 per cent among Canadian-born workers, according to the report by the data agency.
Furthermore, recent immigrants often have difficulty transferring their educational and job qualifications to the labour market and finding steady, good paying jobs, the study said.