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Manitoba’s economy could dip by about five per cent this year — a decline that’s much milder than the national average, but will be felt the most in Winnipeg.
A regional snapshot by the Bank of Montreal released Tuesday suggests Manitoba has weathered the pandemic’s economic downturn better than all other provinces, citing earlier reopenings and a fairly low unemployment rate.
In Winnipeg, the report says about half of all jobs have been recovered since the worst point of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But at an average rate of 10.4 per cent unemployment, BMO says Winnipeg’s numbers are higher than the Manitoba average (at 8.8 per cent) — even while being slightly better than the 11.1 per cent rates averaging across Canada.
The city’s labour market is heavily service-oriented, according to the report, representing around 80 per cent of all jobs; with health care and social assistance (16 per cent) as well as trade (14 per cent) falling behind as key employment sectors.
"Looking ahead, we expect Winnipeg’s unemployment rate to stabilize back to provincial levels as reopenings continue, including retail and paramedical services, through the second half of 2020," said BMO’s senior economist Robert Kavcic in a statement.
He said pressures facing Manitoba’s largest city are different than the rest of the province, with a "significant cluster" of services being particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks (such as nursing care facilities).
The tourism, transportation and shipment sector is experiencing a "prolonged period of weakness," he said, "especially given uncertainty surrounding the timeline of an eventual vaccine."
Still, Kavcic remains hopeful about other financial areas — such as real estate and construction sectors (which together account for 13 per cent of all employment) — and have bounced back to normal levels during the pandemic.
"The pandemic has caused no typical recession," he said. "So the impact is being felt, even if less so than in some other major cities."
Temur Durrani reports on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for this Free Press reporting position comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.
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