While the actual population of very recent immigrants has declined since the border closed in March 2020, the employment rate among this group has been on an upward tick for the duration of the pandemic. This doesn’t mean that very recent immigrants are being hired more frequently than they were pre-pandemic; rather, their numbers are falling faster than their rate of employment.
In July, the employment rate for very recent immigrants increased 1 percentage point from June, reaching 69.1 per cent. Among immigrants who have been in Canada for more than five years, employment fell a fraction of a point for the same period, and was recorded at 58.1 per cent in July.
The arrival of the pandemic significantly stymied a trend of employment growth among very recent immigrants over the past several years. Those participating in the labour force ballooned from more than 612,000 in 2016 to 751,000 in 2019. With the travel restrictions and other coronavirus-related measures of 2020, that upward trajectory stalled.
Fortunately, labour force participation has bounced back to 2019 levels, with very recent immigrants accounting for nearly 4 per cent of the total labour force from January to July 2021. This group, specifically, is important to consider because immigration potentially addresses a shrinking Canadian workforce, resulting from an aging population and low birthrate.
In June, as travel restrictions began easing globally, the border reopened to approved permanent residents. In the same month, Canada welcomed 35,700 new permanent residents, more than any month during the pandemic.
While it is not yet known how many new immigrants entered Canada in July, Statistics Canada says the Labour Force Survey will monitor growth in this area as travel restrictions continue to ease.