Toronto Unemployment Hits 317k People, More Than All of Quebec

Toronto Unemployment Hits 317k People, More Than All of Quebec

If Greater Toronto is still ahead of the national curve, Canada may be in trouble. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows the unemployment rate climbed sharply in May. Rising unemployment is a national trend, but the rapid pace at which it’s climbing can be attributed to Greater Toronto, home to a third of the increased unemployment in the past year. It’s a general trend across Southern Ontario, which has gone from the driver of the national economy to a major drag. 

Toronto Represents A Third of The Unemployed People Canada Added

For those that missed Canada’s employment data, unemployment has been climbing steadily. The seasonally adjusted national rate reached 6.1% in May, representing 1.34 million people. Over the past year, that rate has climbed 1.0 point (+250.9k people), which is a 20% increase. Rising unemployment is a trend being observed across the country, but the lion’s share driving growth is the Toronto CMA. 

Looking for a job? Toronto might be the least likely place to find one these days. Over the past year, the unemployment rate climbed 1.0 point (+83.8k people) to 7.9% (317.2k people) as of May. About 1 in 3 of Canada’s unemployment gains over the past year is in the region, which now has more unemployed people than the whole province of Quebec (241.2k people).

Toronto’s unemployed population is now the largest outside of the pandemic going back at least two decades. Though considering the population was much smaller prior, this might be a record in terms of sheer quantity of unemployed people. 

Southern Ontario Unemployment Rates Are Climbing Unusually Fast

While it’s a national trend, Canada’s other big cites aren’t experiencing the same growth. Vancouver’s unemployment rate is just 5.7% (97.3k people), substantially lower than the national unemployment rate. Ditto for Montreal (5.8%; 147k people). Calgary (8.1%; 83.5k people) is an exception, coming in notably higher than the national average. 

Southern Ontario cities as a whole appear to not being doing nearly as hot as big cities. Cities overrepreented for its unemployment rate include Windsor (8.5%), St. Catharines-Niagara (7.9%), and Hamilton (7%). These markets have helped to push the province-wide rate to 6.8% as of May, much higher than the national rate of 6.1%.  

The erosion of employment in the Greater Toronto region provides more context to its real estate market. Despite its rapid population growth, rental vacancies have been climbing. Not just office spaces, which have hit a new record for availability, but the residential rental vacancy rate exceeds pre-pandemic levels. Coupled with slow home sales and a mortgage delinquency rate now at the highest level in nearly a decade, experts are placing a lot on that recent rate cut to revive the city’s market.