Ottawa-Gatineau's unemployment rate dips to 8.6% in September

Ottawa skyline

More than 9,000 new jobs were created in the National Capital Region last month, boosting the total number of employed residents to its highest level since the pandemic began, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Ottawa-Gatineau’s unemployment rate fell more than half a percentage point to 8.6 per cent in September as the local economy gained 9,100 net additional jobs and the total labour force grew by nearly 5,000 people. Total employment last month rose to 730,200, its highest level since March, when COVID-19 was first detected in the capital.

The region’s largest employer helped lead the way in job creation last month, with the public administration sector gaining a net 2,400 positions. The hard-hit accommodations and food services industry continued to recover, adding a net of 1,600 jobs ​– a gain that is likely to be short-lived after the province announced it was reinstating a ban on indoor drinking and dining at bars and restaurants in Ottawa as of Saturday after a recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

Meanwhile, the tech sector – another key economic driver and an industry that’s actually expanded during the pandemic – saw a slight dip of about 200 jobs in September, its second straight month of declines.

Nationally, Statistics Canada said Friday the country added 378,000 jobs in September, bringing overall employment to within 720,000 of pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, the unemployment rate fell to nine per cent, continuing its slide down from the record-high of 13.7 per cent recorded in May. Still, there were 1.8 million Canadians unemployed in September, with the vast majority, about 1.5 million, looking for work.

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate would have been 11.9 per cent in September had it included in its calculation people who wanted a job, but didn't look for work.

– With files from the Canadian Press