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Perceived job security in Canada falls to lowest since COVID-19

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Canadians are starting to question whether their jobs are still safe.

Net job security plunged to 44.9 per cent, its lowest level since May 2020, according to a Nanos Research Group poll for Bloomberg News. That’s measured as the share of respondents who say their job is “secure” or “somewhat secure” minus those who say it is “somewhat not secure” or “not at all secure.”

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Almost three in 10 Canadians — 29 per cent — now say they are unsure how secure their job is, up 11 points in less than two months.

The data suggest workers aren’t necessarily turning outright pessimistic, but uncertainty is ballooning. Most Canadians remain confident they won’t lose their jobs, as 44 per cent said they feel their job is secure, while another 14 per cent said somewhat secure. Four percent responded somewhat not secure, while nine per cent said not at all secure.

Hard data aren’t showing a significant deterioration in job security, said Brendon Bernard, a senior economist at Indeed.com, in an interview. Layoffs are still relatively low and Indeed job postings remain above pre-pandemic levels. Bad news could be driving the downturn in sentiment, Bernard said, referring to recent articles about rising unemployment and business insolvencies.

The biggest signs of weakness in the hard data are visible in the youth labour market, he said. The employment rate for workers aged 15 to 24 has fallen sharply, down to 55 per cent in March. For core-aged workers between the ages of 25 to 54, the employment rate is still over 84 per cent.

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“There’s a real dichotomy,” Bernard said.

In April 2020, pandemic restrictions led Canada to lose about two million jobs, the worst month in history for employment by a massive margin. It’s striking that perceived job security is about as low as it was the month after that enormous job loss, particularly since many economists now expect a soft landing in the wake of the Bank of Canada’s rate-hiking campaign.

In the most recent report for March, Canada’s statistics agency said the country lost 2,200 jobs, driving the unemployment rate up 0.3 percentage points to 6.1 per cent. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had thought the economy would gain 25,000 jobs that month.

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Every week, Nanos surveys about 250 Canadians for their views on personal finances, job security, the economy and real estate prices. Bloomberg publishes four-week rolling averages of the 1,000 telephone responses. The poll has a margin of error of about three percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index began in 2008.

Bloomberg.com

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