Nearly one in ten Canadians reported losing their jobs over the course of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country’s economy.
However, that burden isn’t being borne equally across the population, according to a new Ipsos poll.
“This is really a pandemic in which the burden is being borne by the younger part of our population,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos.
While some may have found their biggest work-related inconvenience of 2020 took the form of a cat running across their keyboard as they adjusted to their new home offices, for many people the pandemic ripped away their paycheck and shattered their finances. The latter was the reality for the nine per cent of Canadians who reported losing their jobs in the last year — and they are far more likely to be young adults, according the new poll from Ipsos.
Seventeen per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 say they’ve lost their job, according to Ipsos. That number dips to 10 per cent for those aged 35-54 and three per cent for those over the age of 55.
However, the poll did find one upside for young Canadians – they are more likely to report having found new work. Roughly 17 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 reported finding a new job, as opposed to eight per cent of those aged 35 to 54 and just two per cent of those over the age of 55.
“What we’re seeing is that there’s a fair amount of churn, particularly among the younger population, where 17 per cent say that they’ve lost their job during the course of the pandemic, but 17 per cent have also said that they’ve found a job,” said Bricker.
“I’m not saying they’re matched up exactly, but what you’re seeing is that there’s a surprising amount of churn that’s happening in the workplace where people still are hiring, even if people are losing their jobs.”
Still, the poll found that the overall picture is that “slightly more Canadians than last year” reported losing their jobs and “fewer [are] saying they’ve gotten new ones.”
The unemployment rate hit a record high of 13.7 per cent in May, but that figure has been steadily falling ever since, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Market Survey. The most recent figures, posted in November, show the current unemployment sitting at 8.5 per cent.
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In addition to some Canadians losing their jobs in 2020, fewer Canadians are seeking out job training. Just five per cent of Canadians re-trained for a job or pursued further training this year, which is a three per cent drop from previous polls. This means fewer Canadians will be equipping themselves for promotions or fresh opportunities heading into 2021.
“People aren’t participating in job training in the way that they were. A lot of what’s going on, I would say, in the employment market is churn along with stability,” Bricker said.
‘Improving your situation, in terms of your career, is not how people are really looking at the pandemic right now. They’re basically looking at getting by.”
Despite the uptick in Canadians losing their jobs and the dip in those diving into studies or skills training, Canadians are actually painting a rosier picture in terms of their financial stability than they have in the past.
“Another silver living to the pandemic is that almost a quarter [23 per cent] of Canadians are fortunate enough to say that they don’t have any barriers to financial stability, a five-point increase from the same time last year,” the poll read.
While this represents a boost in Canadians feeling financially secure compared to the same time last year, 77 per cent of respondents still listed various barriers that prevent them from feeling financially stable.
The main area of concern for these families as they strive for financial stability is the cost of food, followed by housing costs such as mortgage or rent payments. Both factors were mentioned as key barriers about ten per cent of the time, according to the poll.
Other barriers cited by Canadians included debt, low wages and an inability to find work.
While 33 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 report that they don’t have any barriers to financial stability, just 18 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 and 16 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 say the same. In addition to that, only 10 per cent of households earning less than $40,000 a year said they don’t face any barriers to financial stability.
“If you’re a younger person, particularly somebody who’s in more precarious employment, you’re really hurting through the course of this pandemic,” Bricker said.
Most Canadians also found new ways to save some money in the last year. Just over half of Canadians polled said they cut back on spending, whether that’s by making fewer non-essential purchases or by cutting back on buying food and clothing to make ends meet. This was a particularly prevalent finding in Alberta, where 71 per cent of respondents said they had to either sell off some belongings or cut back on spending in the past year.
The biggest dip in spending, however, can be found in the realms of entertainment and travel.
“All of the fun stuff is where we’re seeing that there’s been a decline. So things that you would regard as discretionary spending. Part of that is probably because people are a bit concerned about their ability to get themselves through this pandemic, but an awful lot is driven by a lack of supply,” Bricker said.
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14, 2020, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.
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