Low-wage earners hit hardest by pandemic job market

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Employment counsellor David McKay says he’s encountered the full suite of emotions from his clients at a Toronto-area employment centre during the pandemic. While some have been optimistic about finding new opportunities, he’s predominantly encountered frustration.

“You’re seeing anxiety, you’re seeing people who are feeling isolated, lack of social resources to deal with things,” said McKay, who’s been with the Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre for nearly 16 years. 

“I’ve seen a couple of people who are students who are coming to the end of their college diplomas or their university degrees and saying, ‘I don’t know whether there’s jobs in the thing I’ve been training for in the last two years, what am I going to do about it?'”

The pandemic is hitting lower-wage jobs the hardest. According to a recent report published by CIBC Economics, all of the jobs lost in the country last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic earned $27.81 an hour or less. The average hourly wage rate for full- and part-time employees in 2020 was around $31 an hour, according to Statistics Canada.

The January report, written by CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal, used Statistics Canada data on the pandemic’s impact on below-average wages…

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