The unemployment rate in Canada has fallen below pre-pandemic levels for the first time.
The same can be said in Manitoba, according to Statistics Canada. But even though businesses see these numbers as encouraging, staff shortages are still a problem.
Melanie Foucault, the co-owner of Preservation Hall Eatery & Wine Bar said she is seeing business pick up.
“I think that after two years of this, people are eager to find that connection again with friends and family,” said Foucault.
As a result, Foucault has had to hire more employees in the last month.
“We have had almost 50 per cent increase in kitchen staff,” said Foucault. “We’ve also hired new front of house staff as well.”
The unemployment rate was 5.5 per cent in February 2022 compared to 5.7 per cent in February 2020. The same is true for Manitoba with a 4.8 per cent rate last month, compared to five per cent in February 2020.
Jason Gill from the staffing and recruiting firm Staff Max said companies are hiring and people are looking for work in a wide range of sectors.
“We’re placing a lot more people than we did pre-COVID,” said Gill.
But despite the low unemployment rate, he said it is still a candidates’ market.
“So an individual definitely has options out there to look at, you know, from one facility to the next, maybe you’re looking for more money.”
Annie Dormuth from The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the unemployment numbers are encouraging. Still, she notes the labor shortage crunch persists. Dormuth said uncertainty during the pandemic saw workers leave jobs with some going back to school.
“With older people entering post-secondary education, we do see a kind of a correlation between that and simply just an exodus of workers in these hardest-hit industries,” said Dormuth.
Foucault said the availability of workers is not the only consideration.
“We’re not just looking for more people, we’re looking for the right people,” said Foucault. “So it will take some time to get to the appropriate levels, but we’re excited that things are trending in that direction.”
In a statement to CTV News, the provincial government said it is confident Manitoba will continue to show strong economic growth and recovery in the coming weeks and months ahead.