April 2021 employment showed modest gains

April 2021 employment showed modest gains

April 2021 employment numbers for Brantford showed modest job gains, even as new lockdowns sidelined workers across Canada.

The city’s jobless rate fell to 6.4% in April, down from 7.2% in March, according to the latest seasonally adjusted estimates from Statistics Canada released Friday. Local employment reached the highest level since the pandemic’s first wave a year ago in April 2020, when the jobless rate was 8.9%.

April 2021 employment numbers show Brantford fared better than many places in Canada.

Employment fell by about 207,000 jobs across Canada as COVID-19 restrictions were tightened in several provinces, pushing up the national monthly jobless rate to 8.1%. Ontario’s monthly unemployment rate climbed to 9%, due to an estimated 153,000 fewer residents working.

Ontario started its current stay-at-home order on April 8, just prior to Statistics Canada conducting its labour force survey April 11 to 17.

“It’s great to see the Brantford area’s unemployment rate at a one-year low,” said Danette Dalton, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board. “We hope that trend continues, but we may continue to see instability in the job market, especially if the pandemic’s third wave isn’t brought under control.”

Dalton said it is important to remember that “there are still more than 5,000 local residents who don’t have jobs, which means thousands of families are struggling and need our community’s support.”

In Brantford, April 2021 employment numbers show that more women across all age groups worked full-time, while full-time work fell among men, with young workers ages 15 to 24 the hardest hit. Part-time employment grew for men.

There were about 1,200 new job listings in April for the city of Brantford on the Grand Erie Jobs job board. Another 1,000 new jobs were listed for Brant, Norfolk, Six Nations and Haldimand. A large majority of job postings are for full-time permanent positions.

While material handler remains the No. 1 job posting locally, employers are looking to fill a wide variety of positions. Businesses are still recruiting for sales, customer service and restaurant jobs, even with the curtailing of these types of operations. Many area farms are also hiring.

Visit Statistics Canada to read its News Release about April 2021’s job market in Canada and Ontario.

March 2021 job numbers show dip in unemployment

March 2021 job numbers show dip in unemployment

March 2021 job numbers show that Brantford’s jobless rate dipped after the previous month’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were lifted.

The local unemployment rate fell to 7.2% in March, from 7.6% in February, according to seasonally adjusted estimates from the Statistics Canada survey conducted mid-month. Norfolk’s monthly unemployment rate was 9.2% last month, down from 11% during the same month in 2020.

Nationally, Canada gained 303,000 employees, bringing the unemployment rate down 0.7 percentage points to 7.5%. In Ontario, the unemployment rate decreased to 7.5%, from 9.2% the previous month, marking the lowest rate for the province since March 2020.

Statistics Canada’s March survey of Brantford area household was conducted prior to Ontario’s latest stay-at-home order. Job numbers are expected to shift because of that order, said Danette Dalton, executive of the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie.

“We are anticipating that the most recent stay-at-home order will have impacts on local employment,” Dalton said. “We’re committed to monitoring local labour market trends closely, and keeping the Grand Erie community informed and educated about local workforce needs and supports.”

Locally, March 2021 job numbers show that the unemployment rate is up 1.7% since March 2020, when the impact of COVID-19 was first felt in Brantford. While employment did rise for both males and females last month, youth (aged 15-24) employment continued its downward trend.

Young women have been particularly affected by pandemic-related labour market shifts, with 2,400 fewer employed since March 2020. Many of these individuals were previously working part-time in the manufacturing, construction and healthcare industries.

More than 1,000 employees joined the Brantford area workforce between February and March, with much of this growth concentrated in the health care and social assistance sector. Meanwhile, employment in Brantford’s wholesale and retail trade and education sectors declined for the third consecutive month.

To assist youth in navigating the world of work, the Workforce Planning Board, in collaboration with organizations from across the region, is hosting a webinar – Youth Work NOW! – on April 29th at 11 a.m. The event will showcase local resources to help youth aged 15-24 find a summer job, their first full-time job or start their own business! To register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YWN

Visit Statistics Canada to read its News Release about January 2021’s job market in Canada and Ontario.

Local Labour Market 2020 – The Year of the Pandemic

Local Labour Market 2020 – The Year of the Pandemic

We now have a clearer picture of how the global COVID-19 pandemic affected the labour market and businesses of the Grand Erie area in 2020.

The Grand Erie region – encompassing the City of Brantford, Counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk, as well as the indigenous communities of Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the New Credit – is home to a diverse set of employers and employees, all of whom were impacted by the pandemic.

Business owners struggled. Thousands of workers were laid off. Others adapted to working virtually. Meanwhile, people in some occupations were more in-demand than ever.

The recovery is ongoing and there is much work to be done. As businesses recalibrate, they are identifying skills in-demand that have increased significantly to adapt to the future of work. Some of these skills are: adaptability/flexibility; resilience; teamwork/interpersonal skills; digital fluency and customer relations.

The 2020-2021 Local Labour Market Plan: Recalibrating: Building a Robust Workforce in Grand Erie published by the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie, describes how most employers and employees in the Grand Erie region experienced major disruptions in 2020. The report also describes what work needs to be done in 2021 to ensure our local labour force and economy continues to recover.

Here are some highlights from what took place in the 2020 Local Labour Market.

Grand Erie Labour Force

In November 2019, Brantford hit a record low unemployment rate of 3.1%. Within the same time frame, the number of jobs in Norfolk County dropped by around 700, raising the unemployment rate there to 6%.

During the early months of COVID-19, employment dropped significantly across almost all sectors. Between January and May 2020, almost 9000 jobs were lost in the Grand Erie region, most within the service sector, construction and manufacturing. Meanwhile, employment in health and education occupations increased slightly. In June 2020, pandemic related business closures pushed up the unemployment rate in Brantford to above 12% and 10% in Norfolk County.

Businesses began to recover during the summer and fall of 2020, with employment almost at January 2020 levels according to Statistics Canada. However, many of these job gains were not in the same sectors or occupations as the jobs lost.

In 2019, males made up 59% of all full-time workers and 29% of all part-time workers. While male part-time work increased slightly in 2020, male full-time employment remained stagnant.

More part-time work within Brantford was taken up by females, who made up 71% of the part-time workforce and 41% of the full-time workforce.

An examination of sex and age-related labour force survey trends reveal, quite clearly, that COVID-19 has affected some groups more than others

Gender data also reveals some differences. Many men lost their full-time jobs in sectors such as manufacturing and construction due to COVID-19 related closures. Meanwhile, among women, part-time workers were disproportionately affected. Two of every three females that lost their jobs in March were previously employed in part-time work, mainly in sectors where this type of work is more common – like accommodations, food services and retail.

This uneven distribution of work has been amplified by the pandemic; female part-time employment grew in 2020 at a fairly steep rate. Meanwhile, many females in full-time work lost their jobs.

2020 data indicates that the year’s local youth unemployment rate was almost double that of 2019. Both participation and employment among youth have since increased, but these continue to remain below pre-pandemic levels as of December 2020.

Within the core working age group, local unemployment drops have been fairly low throughout the course of 2020 and among adults aged 55 to 64, employment grew following a dip in the spring


Grand Erie’s population of an estimated 270,000 residents is aging. As of 2019, the average age of Brant residents was 41, and that of Haldimand-Norfolk was 43.5.  Across all regions, younger core-working age adults (aged 25 to 44) make up the smallest proportion of the population, while older adults (aged 50 to 65) make up the largest population group.

Individuals in professional occupations (requiring university education) make up around 20% of Grand Erie’s labour force, while people in labouring occupations (requiring no formal education) make up around 15%. Of the remainder, approximately one-third are in technical and skilled occupations and the other one-third are in intermediate occupations.

Job search trends captured by Grand Erie Jobs between June and December indicate that around 40% of job seekers were looking for professional occupations such as registered nurses, retail managers and financial officers. However, only 12% of jobs posted in Grand Erie required this skill level. Inversely, people with no formal education made up around 9% of job seekers between June and December 2020, but 12% of postings were for labouring occupations such as cashiers, light duty cleaners and construction trades helpers.


Over the course of 2020, employment in Grand Erie’s goods producing sector has plummeted significantly, while the service sector has been picking up since the initial pandemic shutdowns in the spring.

Employment in Grand Erie’s goods producing sector typically dips in the late winter months. The early 2020 drop in employment within goods-producing industries does not appear particularly significant, especially when compared to the years prior. However, we saw a much slower climb in employment within this sector in the summer of 2020, and some additional jobs were lost in the fall.  Much of this is because our main goods-producing industry, manufacturing, has been on the decline. These declines were offset by increases within other goods-producing sectors – such as agriculture and construction.

The service producing sector, on the other hand – which employs a lot more of our region’s workforce – is less predictable. The sector experienced a gradual decline in employment throughout 2019 and plummeted during April/May due to the pandemic. This sector has since been on the rise; since June 2020, almost 6000 individuals entered service sector jobs in Grand Erie. 

The manufacturing sector continues to hire the largest number of Grand Erie residents, but this sector has decreased in workforce size over the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic augmented this trend. Between December 2019 and December 2020, the manufacturing sector shed 2,400 jobs in Brantford – a 16% drop.

The wholesale and retail trade industry is the second largest sector by employment within Grand Erie. Over the last 5 years, employment in this sector grew by 26%. In 2020, this sector experienced the greatest job gains after a steep dip in the spring, with over 3,900 new employees gained between December 2019 and December 2020. Interestingly, in the same timeframe, the number of retail businesses dropped by 3%, mostly because of declines in the number of micro and small businesses.


Sales and Service Occupations. Between January and March 2020, around 3,800 sales and service jobs were lost, bringing this occupational group to Jan 2016 levels. Sales and service occupations have seen significant growth since, with 7,400 more employed between May and December 2020.

Trades, Transport and Equipment Operators and Related Occupations – These occupations experienced modest growth between 2016 and 2019 but lost around 2,800 jobs between Jan and May 2020. Recovery was slow during the fall and picked up towards the winter months; between May and December, trades related employment grew by 3,400.

Business, Finance and Administration Occupations – These occupations have not changed significantly over the past 5 years, and have experienced a slow, but steady decline since early 2020. The sector gained jobs during the first few months of the pandemic but has since returned to Jan 2020 levels.

Occupations in Manufacturing and Utilities- These occupations grew by around 3000 between Jan 2016 and Jan 2020, but lost almost all these jobs in the early months of 2020. This occupational group is beginning to make strides towards recovery as of December 2020.

Occupations in Education, Law, and Social, Community and Government Services- These occupations declined by around 2,500 jobs between Jan 2016 and Jan 2020. After a slight decline in spring 2020, these occupations picked up again during the summer, but have since been on the decline.


Income data from 2014 to 2018 indicates that the proportion of low-income earners is decreasingly slightly, while the number of individuals employed at jobs paying more than $25,000 is increasing.

In 2018, the median wage in Brantford CMA was $36,380. Females made around $11,000 less on average, but the gap between male and female income is narrowing slightly.

Read about Ontario’s Labour Market

Read Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey


Local jobless rate continues to climb

Local jobless rate continues to climb

Brantford’s unemployment rate rose for the second month in a row amidst business closures and changes in capacity limits.

The February jobless rate for Brantford was 7.6%, up from January’s 6.9%, according to seasonally adjusted Statistics Canada estimates. The survey of local households was conducted mid-month, during the same week as the lift in stay-at-home orders across the province.

In Canada, employment increased by 259,000, bringing the national unemployment rate down to 8.2% – the lowest rate since March 2020. Ontario’s jobless rate, too, decreased this month, dropping by one percentage point to 9.2%.

In Brantford, full-time employment has been rising steadily since the beginning of this year. Meanwhile, part-time employment decreased by 1200 between January and February 2021. Majority of the jobs shed over the last month were within the wholesale and retail trade and manufacturing sectors.

February marks 12 months since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada. Year-over-year, local employment among males increased by around 2600, while employment among females decreased by approximately 3300. These job losses were concentrated among part-time workers, many of whom lost work in the healthcare, food services and manufacturing industries.

Sales and service occupations – which were particularly hard-hit this month – picked up rapidly last fall after a steep decline following the first lockdown, according to Danette Dalton, Executive Director of the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie.  “We hope to see a similar spike in the upcoming months.”

“Over the last year, we’ve seen Grand Erie’s workforce display great resilience, and we’re optimistic about what the future holds.” said Dalton. “Regardless, we need to continue supporting those that have been most affected – such as our youth and part-time workers – in navigating today’s turbulent labour market.”

More than 1,100 businesses had a job posting on the Grand Erie Jobs board in February. More than 86% of postings were for full-time, permanent positions. Jobs most frequently advertised were: material handlers, farm workers, home support workers, customer service representatives and retail salespersons.

The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie recently released its 2020-2021 Local Labour Market Plan – Recalibrating: Building a Robust Workforce in Grand Erie – which reviews key labour force shifts that took place in 2020, and highlights workforce priorities for the upcoming year. Read the full report here.

Visit Statistics Canada to read its News Release about January 2021’s job market in Canada and Ontario.

Transit survey shows public support

Transit survey shows public support

About 70% of people would use a public transit system between area communities, a new transit survey says.

The Navigating Grand Erie survey of 425 residents found that 71% would use a transit system that connected the communities of Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations and New Credit, if it was available. A smaller number of residents are interested in transit to travel to cities outside Grand Erie.

Two in five people would use an intercommunity transit for leisure or personal purposes, while 1 in 5 would use it to get to and from work, according to the transit survey by the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie.

Executive Director Danette Dalton said the survey was conducted to follow up the organization’s earlier research and surveys that showed that some residents can’t obtain work in certain areas or have left jobs because of the distance from their homes, the time/cost of travelling to and from work, and the lack of transportation options.

“Limited transportation affects job seekers’ capacity to find and maintain work,” Dalton said. “On the flip side, lack of transit can limit the ability of businesses to attract and retain employees.”

The Navigating Grand Erie transit survey found that while 80% of full-time workers own vehicles, only 48% of people who were unemployed do.

Public transit currently exists in Brantford (Brantford Transit) and Norfolk (Ride Norfolk), while the County of Brant offers a Brant e-ride program, but other parts of the Grand Erie area are without service. There are also few transit links, with limited destinations and often long travel times, for residents who work outside the area, such as in Cambridge and Woodstock, Dalton said.

“Efforts are underway by the Southwest Community Transit (SCT) to expand transit services between mainly rural communities,” she said. “We believe the survey will help community and transit leaders better understand the needs and interests of the workforce in enhancing services, now and in the future.”

To read the report, visit our Transportation Survey page.

An interactive report with highlights is also available.

Call for Nominations: Essential workers

Call for Nominations: Essential workers

As we near the one year mark in the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie wishes to recognize the tremendous work carried out by essential workers in our region by profiling employees from various sectors.

Do you know an outstanding person in the Grand Erie workforce who has been working hard to support their family and our community during the pandemic?

We are asking our community for help with nominations so we may share their story and pay them tribute. Their story will be featured in our Frontline Fridays series over the next couple of months.

For more information and to nominate your exceptional essential worker, please contact Sylvia Hentz of the Workforce Planning Board at 519-756-1116, ext. 228.

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