Rural Ontario Institute monitors COVID-19 impact on rural employment

GUELPH – While they warn against reading too much into a small sample, the Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) says early trends suggest he COVID-19 pandemic is impacting employment harder in urban areas.

In its April newsletter, the institute cites a study by statistician Ray D. Bollman indicating the percentage decline in urban employment from February to March 2020 was about double the decline in rural employment.

“Caution is advised in reading too much into this one set of results, since month-to-month data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) includes variability because it is a sample and there is also variability from month to month due to the seasonality of jobs,” ROI officials note.

The institute states forthcoming data related to the March to April changes will be more meaningful and help further assess whether lower COVID-19 related rural declines in employment remain the case.

“We know that  rural employment is more concentrated in goods production sectors than is the urban economy and such sectors may have been more likely to be deemed essential,” ROI officials note.

Bollman, author of a series of Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheets produced for the ROI and a research associate for two Canadian universities, will continue to monitor and report on the LFS during the COVID-19 era, the institute states.