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The job prospects for young Canadians took another turn for the worse in December, Statistics Canada data show, with young women in part-time jobs taking a big hit and Toronto’s lockdown shrinking the city’s overall workforce after five months of gains.

The losses come as a sustained winter surge of COVID-19 cases in major population centres pushes authorities to impose or extend public health restrictions that disproportionately affect retail, hospitality and other service jobs where youth are often employed.

“The data highlight what is an increasingly bifurcated economic backdrop, with resurgence of virus cases and containment measures dramatically curtailing activity in the hospitality and travel sectors, while other industries have continued to broadly improve,” Royal Bank of Canada senior economist Nathan Janzen wrote in a note.

Overall, employment fell by 63,000 in December, the first such decline since April. Some 27,000 jobs held by young people aged 15 to 24 were lost in the month, StatsCan said, with some gains in full-time work eclipsed by a sharp fall in part-time employment. Employment levels in both full-time and part-time work were little changed for male youth.

Some 52,000 jobs were lost last month in the Toronto census area, which stretches from Ajax in the east to Milton in the west and from Lake Ontario north to Lake Simcoe, the first such retraction in five months.

Much of the region, with a population of almost 6 million people, has been under stricter forms of public health restrictions since at least November as a second wave of COVID-19 cases gathered steam. On Friday, the province recorded yet another record number of new cases and Premier Doug Ford said more measures to contain the virus would be coming.

The latest data keeps young people farther from their pre-pandemic levels of employment than any other demographic group, with 10.5 percent fewer in work. Employment among the core 25 to 54 years old population was 1.8 percent below February levels.

Food service and accommodation job losses make up three in five of the 247,000 job losses among youth in December compared to a year earlier.

Job growth was flat across Ontario, after averaging 2.2 percent monthly growth between June to November, with losses in accommodation and food services partially offset by more manufacturing work.

Young people, and particularly young women employed in part-time jobs, were hit hard by COVID-19 public health measures in December, @StatCan_eng says, as retail and hospitality jobs disappeared

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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