Month: October 2020

Future Skills Framework LogoCan you help us complete the validation of our new pan-Canadian tourism standards?

Tourism HR Canada has worked with experts from across Canada over the past two years to build the Future Skills Framework: a comprehensive set of competencies for our sector.

A few sections of the framework remain and we’re seeking participants to provide insights at this important stage. 

If you have recent experience in any of the topics below, and can join us on Zoom on the relevant date(s) between 1pm and 3pm Eastern Time, please contact info@tourismhr.ca for more information.

Business Management: October 22nd

Guided Hunting: October 27th

Guided Fishing: October 29th

Participating in a session offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the standard for your field, while working together with fellow industry professionals from across Canada. We hope you can join us to guide tourism’s future!

In September, tourism employment increased slightly by 4,200 jobs. This was the fifth month of increased employment since it began to recover in May.

It is very unusual to see tourism employment increase in September. Since 2001, when our customized tourism labour force survey data began, there has never been an increase in tourism employment from August to September. In fact, since 2001, tourism employment has decreased 5.5% on average in September.

Tourism has gained back 576,400 of the 881,700 jobs lost in March and April. The increase in September probably occurred because tourism employment started from such a low point in May. Increasing demand continued to drive employment upwards. But tourism employment was also 360,500 jobs lower than it was in September 2019, showing that tourism employment has a long road to recovery yet.

It is also important to note that the data was collected for the week of September 13 to 19. At that time, an upward trend in COVID infections was occurring, with over 800 new cases in Canada announced on the 19th. The data does not capture any change caused by the reimplementation of restrictions in Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City, Ottawa, Peel, and York. Nor does it reflect any changes announced in Winnipeg this week.

Highlights:

  • Tourism added 4,200 jobs in September.
  • Only Ontario and British Columbia added jobs—tourism employment decreased in all other provinces.
  • The tourism unemployment rate has fallen to 13.4%, which remains 5.0 percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate.
  • On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.6% from September 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 19.8% from the same month a year ago.

Please note: To allow comparisons with tourism sector data, which sees significant employment fluctuations over the year, we use seasonally unadjusted data for both tourism employment and overall employment.

Tourism Employment Rate

In September, employment (unadjusted for seasonality) across the entire Canadian economy increased by 275,000 jobs. Tourism employment increased slightly in September, a highly unusual trend. Tourism employment usually drops as student workers return to school and demand for tourism drops.

This slight increase hides a significant shift in the share of full-time and part-time employment. The sector lost 92,600 full-time jobs while gaining 96,900 part-time jobs, for a total increase of 4,200 jobs.

The small overall increase also masks some significant changes in employment levels at the industry and regional level. Most of the overall employment increase (regardless of whether it was part-time or full-time) occurred in Ontario, which gained 25,300 jobs. British Columbia recorded a small gain of 1,300 jobs. All other provinces shed jobs.

There were significant shifts by industry group as well. Employment gains of 19,900 jobs in food and beverage services and 41,500 jobs in the transportation industry group offset employment losses elsewhere.

Last September, tourism employed over 2 million Canadians. This September, just over 1.7 million Canadians worked in the tourism sector.

Employment decreased in the accommodations, recreation and entertainment, and travel services industry groups in September. The transportation industry saw a large jump in employment, following two months of losses, and the food and beverage services industry continued to add employment. Most employment gains were in part-time work, except for 13,300 full-time jobs in transportation.

Because the industry groups that make up tourism are different sizes, looking at the monthly change in employment as a percentage change relative to the previous month provides a more equitable picture of how each industry is doing. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increases relative to the employment decreases that occurred in past months.

In all industry groups, employment remains below its pre-COVID level. Travel services has lost the most employment, with less than half the workers it had in February. Employment in the recreation and entertainment industry, which had almost recovered to February levels in August, fell back, losing 8.5% employment in September. Despite a significant gain in employment in September, the transportation industry remains 20.7% below February employment levels, after losing employment in July and August.

On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.6% from September 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 19.8% from the same month a year ago, although it is an improvement over July and August, when employment was down 25.0% and 21.2% year over year. By industry group, year-over-year employment losses in September ranged from -58.7% in travel services to -14.0% in food and beverage services.

Ontario was the main source of additional employment, adding 25,300 jobs. British Columbia also added jobs in September. All other provinces saw a reduction in tourism employment ranging from a loss of 7,400 jobs in Quebec to a loss of 800 jobs in Prince Edward Island.

These employment decreases would be expected as part of the usual seasonal trend. It is the increase in Ontario that is unusual and is probably driven by the fact that some large population centres only reached Stage 3 of that province’s reopening in late July and may still have been in the process of rehiring in early September.

Employment in all provinces remains well short of 2019 levels. In September, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba were closest to last September’s employment levels, being 12.3% and 12.4% below the employment levels of September 2019, respectively. In Saskatchewan, employment was 30.1% lower than in September 2019, with 42,200 individuals employed in tourism compared to 60,400 a year earlier.

Tourism Unemployment Rate

In September 2020, the unemployment rate in the tourism sector was at 13.4%, which is 8.9 percentage points higher than the rate reported in September 2019, but lower than the previous month (August 2020), when the unemployment rate stood at 17.1%. Although this drop in the unemployment rate is good, it would have partially been driven by the fact that students are less likely to report that they are looking for work if they are back at school. If they do not report that they are looking for work, they are not considered unemployed. Some individuals who looked but never found work over the summer will also be among this group.

At 13.4%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.4%.

The unemployment rate dropped in four of the five industry groups that make up the tourism sector, rising only in transportation.

Unemployment Rate
Tourism Industry Group[1]

September 2019

August 2020

September 2020

Tourism 4.5% 17.1% 13.4%
Accommodations 8.1% 21.3% 18.7%
Food & Beverage Services 5.3% 16.2% 12.8%
Recreation & Entertainment 4.6% 18.1% 14.6%
Transportation 1.2% 15.0% 8.2%
Travel Services N/A 21.7% 30.1%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 6.6% in Prince Edward Island to 14.4% in British Columbia.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exceptions of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Total Actual Hours Worked by Sector

The number of actual hours worked increased in all sectors, including a small increase in accommodation and food services, which recorded a 1.1% increase in hours worked relative to August. Early in the pandemic, hours of work were reduced much more drastically than employment. As of April, actual hours of work in the accommodation and food services sector were down 65.0%, while employment was down 49.3%. Similar gaps were seen in most sectors. The gap between hours and employment has narrowed in most industries, suggesting that there are fewer people employed but not working compared to the early months of the pandemic.

 

Employment by Occupation and Average Annual Earnings

The following chart groups occupations by the average annual earnings of those working in the occupational group. Occupations are grouped into those earning less than $30,000, $30,000 to $50,000, $50,000 to $80,000, and over $80,000.

Initial employment losses (March and April) were heavily concentrated in occupations where workers earn less than $50,000 a year on average. By April, employment dropped by 992,000 jobs in occupations that earn less than $30,000 per year, and by over 1.2 million in occupations earning between $30,000 and $50,000. The two highest earning categories lost a total of 707,600 between them.

While initial employment losses were mostly in lower-earning occupations, those occupations have also seen a greater recovery in the initial months of May and June, but that rally stalled for lower earners while continuing for higher earners. By July, the number of people employed in the highest earnings category exceeded February levels. For the second highest group of earners, it took until September to exceed February employment.

The lowest two earnings categories still lag behind. As of September, employment in those two earnings categories is 295,300 and 208,200 jobs below February levels, respectively. While this is an overall improvement compared to August, it is only an additional 27,000 jobs in the lowest earnings group and in fact a slight loss of employment in the second lowest earnings group. The highest two earnings groups added 248,000 jobs between them. It may be that those who lost jobs due to COVID are in fact finding work in higher paying occupations. More research is required to determine if this is the case.

The Fall Outlook

September’s employment increase was mostly driven by a single province and was the result of a mix of employment gains and losses in different industries. The answers to several question will determine where employment goes from here. How large will the effect of the limited shutdowns be? Tourism businesses are among those targeted. Will there be a second employment dip beyond what is normally expected in the fall? To what degree is the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) maintaining employment that would otherwise be shed? Applications for CEWS had declined in July and August, but 12,240 businesses in the accommodation and food services sector were still using the program at the end of the summer.

Longer term, there is a risk that tourism permanently loses a significant part of its labour force. Tourism was the hardest-hit sector and demand is not likely to recover significantly until the beginning of the summer season after travel restrictions can be fully lifted—hopefully in 2021. In the meantime, former tourism workers will seek employment elsewhere. The immediate focus for businesses is finding a way to sustain themselves until demand increases. But when it comes, businesses may find that demand surges more rapidly than the labour market can accommodate.


[1] As defined by the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account. The NAICS industries included in the tourism sector are those that would cease to exist or operate at a significantly reduced level of activity as a direct result of an absence of tourism.

Strategic Planning for Business Continuity, the first in a new series of free webinars designed for business owners, operators, and entrepreneurs, is now available for viewing.

This business strategy webinar will look at a framework to help small businesses seek guidance on managing through the COVID crisis to help ensure they can survive, and to be sure they can adapt to new business realities.

Watch the Strategic Planning for Business Continuity webinar here.

Download the presentation slides here.

The webinar series features topics from TourismRecovery.ca. Each one-hour session will include practical information and guidance on how to address issues that will help businesses recover, sustain operations, and be more resilient.

Next in the TourismRecovery.ca webinar series:

Considering and Creating New Revenue Strategies

Wednesday, October 28 – 2:00 PM ET

Budgeting and finance concerns are top-of-mind for most businesses as they struggle to keep their doors open. This webinar will look at financial measures to help small businesses survive and build resilience and include tips on managing cash flow during lean times.

Register here to join this session.

Building Strategic Community Partnerships

Tuesday, November 10 – 2:00 PM ET

Tourism’s revival and growth is dependent on the ability of tourism businesses to engage in community-led strategies. This webinar will look at how to harness resources to create a destination that is ready and willing to accept visitors. The session will include tips on building consumer confidence that will help bolster the efforts made by tourism businesses to be safe and welcoming.

Register here to join this session.

Adapting to New Market Realities: Products, Pricing, Placement, Positioning

Tuesday, November 24 – 2:00 PM ET

With a focus on marketing and communications, this webinar will help small businesses revisit business strategies to align products and services with new and different markets. The session will include tips on developing a sales and marketing plan for new markets.

Register here to join this session.

Workforce Power Session

Wednesday, December 9 – 2:00 PM ET

This webinar will help employers navigate challenging staffing issues, exploring ways to recalibrate the staffing structure, plans to help employees transition back to work or new roles, and best practices to support employees with managing difficult circumstances such as transitioning to different jobs or coping with mental health needs.

Register here to join this session.

TourismRecovery.ca was launched by Tourism HR Canada in June to help the sector respond to the COVID-19 crisis by providing timely information and practical tools at no cost. Tourism businesses have asked for webinars to help guide them through some of the big topics.

Designed for business owners, operators, and entrepreneurs, the webinar series will feature topics from TourismRecovery.ca. Each one-hour session will include practical information and guidance on how to address issues that will help businesses recover, sustain operations, and be more resilient. Webinars are scheduled to start promptly at 2 PM Eastern Time.

Strategic Planning Framework for Business Continuity

Wednesday, October 14 – 2:00 PM ET

This business strategy webinar will look at a framework to help small businesses seek guidance on managing through the COVID crisis to help ensure they can survive, and to be sure they can adapt to new business realities.

Register here to join this session.

Considering and Creating New Revenue Strategies

Wednesday, October 28 – 2:00 PM ET

Budgeting and finance concerns are top-of-mind for most businesses as they struggle to keep their doors open. This webinar will look at financial measures to help small businesses survive and build resilience and include tips on managing cash flow during lean times.

Register here to join this session.

Building Strategic Community Partnerships

Tuesday, November 10 – 2:00 PM ET

Tourism’s revival and growth is dependent on the ability of tourism businesses to engage in community-led strategies. This webinar will look at how to harness resources to create a destination that is ready and willing to accept visitors. The session will include tips on building consumer confidence that will help bolster the efforts made by tourism businesses to be safe and welcoming.

Register here to join this session.

Adapting to New Market Realities: Products, Pricing, Placement, Positioning

Tuesday, November 24 – 2:00 PM ET

With a focus on marketing and communications, this webinar will help small businesses revisit business strategies to align products and services with new and different markets. The session will include tips on developing a sales and marketing plan for new markets.

Register here to join this session.

Workforce Power Session

Wednesday, December 9 – 2:00 PM ET

This webinar will help employers navigate challenging staffing issues, exploring ways to recalibrate the staffing structure, plans to help employees transition back to work or new roles, and best practices to support employees with managing difficult circumstances such as transitioning to different jobs or coping with mental health needs.

Register here to join this session.

 

*Additional webinars may be added based on demand.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism is one of the hardest-hit sectors in Canada and across the world. Full recovery is predicted to be as distant as mid-2022. Employment in the accommodations industry may not reach pre-COVID levels until as late as 2024.

Despite the uncertainty, the demand for travel will rebound. This opportunity for growth requires industry players to identify the role newcomers have as Canada’s hotels recover from the crisis.

To explore this more fully, join Café New Canadians for a virtual event on Thursday, October 8, at 7:30 PM Eastern Time.

This live chat features:

  • Vibha Vohra-Bhalla, Director, Services & Community Engagement at ACCES Employment
  • Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada
  • Pinar Uzunkaya, Assistant Project Manager at OTEC
  • Carol Logan, Director of Human Resources at The Prince George Hotel in Halifax

Sign up today to explore the role that immigrants have to play in the evolving Canadian hospitality industry, learn about Destination Employment, a free training program facilitated across the country, and hear panellists’ insights on how we will build a flourishing industry that welcomes travel and leisure to Canada once more.

The four guest speakers will also answer your questions live. See you there!

Register for Café New Canadians’ The future of the hotel and tourism industry in Canada virtual live chat

Future Skills Framework LogoCan you help us complete the validation of our new pan-Canadian tourism standards?

Tourism HR Canada has worked with experts from across Canada over the past two years to build the Future Skills Framework: a comprehensive set of competencies for our sector.

We now have just a few sections of the framework left and would love for you to provide your insights at this important stage.

If you have recent experience in any of the topics below, and can join us on Zoom on the relevant date(s) between 1pm and 3pm Eastern Time, please contact info@tourismhr.ca for more information.

Housekeeping: October 14th, 16th, and 20th

Sustainability: October 21st

Business Management: October 22nd

Guided Hunting: October 27th

Guided Fishing: October 29th

Participating in a session offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the standard for your field, while working together with fellow industry professionals from across Canada. We hope you can join us to guide tourism’s future!