Report: Canadians Optimistic About Labour Market Recovery

The impact of COVID-19 was felt across the globe. In Canada, the effect on the labour market has been unprecedented, with millions of people left unemployed, furloughed or working under reduced hours and pay. Additionally, many employees have been mandated to work from home, while essential workers – such as health care workers, grocery staff and transit drivers, to name a few – have been on the front lines providing much-needed services. Suffice it to say, everyone in the workforce has been affected in one way or another.  

Indeed wanted to check in with Canadians to get a better sense of their work experience during COVID-19, their thoughts on the future of work and whether they’re hopeful the Canadian labour market will bounce back – and if so, when. We surveyed over 1,000 Canadians (both employed and unemployed), and here’s what we found out.

When do Canadians expect the labour market to rebound?

It wasn’t too long ago that Canada’s unemployment rate was hovering at historical lows. However, the state of the economy has taken a turn with unemployment rising to 13.7 in May.

This was also evident on Indeed; we saw as much as a 49% decrease in job postings earlier in May. However, the Canadian labour market has shown signs of progress – the share of Canadian adults with a job increased by 0.8 percentage points in May, and we also saw an uptick in new job postings

While the Canadian labour market still has a long way to go, job seekers are optimistic that it will rebound relatively quickly. Over a quarter (28%) of the respondents from our survey are optimistic that the labour market will bounce back in 6 months, the majority (35%) of respondents think it will take a year.

The “new normal” will look much different 

The pandemic has forced companies and workers to reexamine how they work. Nearly half of respondents (44%) believe that how we work – such as the hours worked, standard workweek, productivity – will be changed forever. 

With 28% of respondents reporting working from home due to COVID-19, along with millions of others around the world, many companies are considering a permanent switch. And why not? Companies were forced to adapt quickly and found that many employees were able to remain productive (according to one study, Canadians are showing a 25% increase in productivity during COVID-19).

Statistics Canada reported that 38.9% of jobs can be done from home. So, combine the ability to work from home with no reduction to productivity with the opportunity to cut real estate costs, and we could be heading towards a “work-from-home revolution.” 

While 58% of respondents working from home believe their company will allow them to continue working remotely post-COVID-19, 48% believe their companies won’t continue to offer this option after the pandemic. Companies may want to consider creating or adapting their remote-work policies for the long haul in order to continue attracting and retaining talent. While we saw a rising interest in remote work pre-pandemic, searches for remote work surged significantly amid COVID-19. The share of Canadian job searches on Indeed including terms like “remote”, “work from home”, “télétravail”, and related phrases, more than doubled in March.

Re-evaluating essential work

During the global pandemic, essential jobs have been the lifeblood of our economy and now more than ever, Canadians are relying on essential workers. COVID-19 has prompted many Canadians to re-evaluate the type of work they deem important. Nearly half (48%) of respondents believe that our perception of the work we consider important will be changed forever. Moreover, 52% believe that society will place more value on essential workers going forward. Of those looking for work right now, 29% would be willing to work in essential services.



The survey was conducted by Indeed among 1,008 Canadians (employed and unemployed), between May 1 and May 31, 2020 using an online panel. The confidence interval (margin of error) is +/- 3%, 19 times out of 20.