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August unemployment rate up from June

Fewer working-age people looking for jobs
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Sault Ste. Marie’s unemployment rate in August was 8.1 per cent, which represents an increase from a recent low of 6.5 per cent in June 2021.

The August rate was 7.1 per cent nationally and 7.6 per cent in Ontario.

The local number is, however, still lower than a high of 11.1 per cent in July 2020, says a release from Algoma Workplace Investment Corporation (AWIC).

AWIC says that previous to COVID restrictions in March 2020, the unemployment rate was 5.1 per cent and then climbed significantly. 

The national and provincial rates also spiked due to COVID restrictions, but have remained fairly consistent over recent months.

AWIC says Sault Ste. Marie’s participation rate has fallen since October to 53.3 per cent - which means fewer people in Sault Ste. Marie’s working aged population (15 years and above) are working or actively looking for work. 

A low participation rate generally means a tighter labour market, which will continue to make it difficult for employers to find employees and will drive down the unemployment rate. 

AWIC says Sault Ste. Marie’s lower participation rate is mainly attributable to an older population, which means more people have left the workforce. 

This could also be partially an indication that people are slow to re-enter the job market after COVID restrictions, says AWIC.

Overall employment in Sault Ste. Marie fell to 32,700 jobs in July from a high of 41,500 in November 2020. (The average level of employment over the past 20 years is 36,700). 

Employment in the goods-producing sector held steady at 7,100, which matches employment levels in the months prior to COVID restrictions. 

Employment in the services-producing sector fell to 25,600, mainly due to falling levels of employment in the retail sector and accommodation and food services sector.

Sault Ste. Marie’s Labour Force Survey results are based on a three-month rolling average which means the Unemployment rate is an average of the previous three months’ rates.