Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, many Canadians lost their jobs or were forced to work reduced hours. The impacts of the crisis varied for people with different levels of education.
To see this, we again use data from Statistics Canada. We look at prime-age workers (aged 25 to 54) in April 2020, when a substantial part of the economy was shut down to contain the spread of the virus. Since February 2020, about 13 percent of workers have lost their jobs. Most of the losses have been concentrated in jobs that require physical contact and are not considered essential to our daily lives.
For example, around 24 percent of workers in personal service (e.g., salespersons, chefs, servers and cleaners) lost their jobs. In contrast, jobs that can be done remotely (e.g., managerial, business, finance, administration and science) or are considered essential (e.g., health care and front-line public service) were not affected much.
You may notice that the jobs that were less affected by the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus tend to be education-intensive. That is why those with less education were hit hardest by COVID‑19. Around 18 percent of workers without post-secondary education lost their job, while only 8 percent of university graduates lost theirs. But it’s the nature of the job that matters, not the education level itself. Indeed, among university graduates who didn’t have an education-intensive job, 11 percent lost their jobs.
Some argue that the effects of COVID‑19 might be long-lasting. Remote work seems to be here to stay, at least for a while. Similarly, options for remote education are changing who can access education and when. These structural changes might shift how demand and supply for workers with different levels of education evolve in the long run.