Canadian Job Seekers Reacting to the Current Realities

Job searches have shifted away from non-essential services, and towards online work.

The Canadian labour market has never experienced such a sudden shock as the COVID-19 crisis. Wide swaths of workplaces are currently closed, changing the types of positions available to job seekers. Job searches by Canadians looking for work on Indeed have also shifted dramatically in response to the challenging situation.

Comparing common Canadian job searches over the four weeks since March 15th, with the four weeks prior, a few patterns stand out.

Remote work increasingly sought after, especially in healthcare and education

As we’ve noted previously, job seekers are increasingly looking for jobs that can be done from home. Of the top 10 fastest rising commonly searched terms over the past four weeks, eight are related to remote work.

Canadian job seekers increasingly interested in online health care and education

Standing out in particular in this group are job searches relating to telehealth and online teaching, which have more than tripled as a share of total Canadian job searches. Both services could see strong demand going forward, especially in online education, with many schools, colleges, and universities likely to remain shuttered for an extended period.

Aside from remote work, the other two fastest-growing search terms also reflect the new reality facing job seekers. Searches including the term “grocery” have jumped as a share of activity alongside an increase in job seeker interest for work at several large supermarket chains, as well as Walmart and Amazon. Searches including the term “urgent” have also surged, a sign of the broad challenges facing the Canadian job market during this difficult time.

Searches for front-of-house restaurant work and shopping malls are down

On the flip-side, with restaurant table-service shut down for the time being, searches including terms like servers, bartenders, bussers, and hosts have plummeted. The share of total Canadian job searches for each of these positions has plunged over two-thirds compared to before the crisis.

job searches for both front-of-house restaurant work and malls down sharply

Job seekers have also shifted away from looking for work in non-essential retail stores. This is evident in large drops in job searches for work at some of Canada’s largest shopping malls, including the West Edmonton Mall, Eaton’s Centre, and Yorkdale Mall.

The changing patterns of Canadian job search highlight how some job seekers are trying to make the best of a bad situation: interest has moved away from parts of the economy that have shut down, and towards others that can remain active during the pandemic. With large sections of the labour market likely to remain constrained until the public health crisis abates, employers can help bridge the gap by shifting certain services online, where job seeker interest has jumped.