Statistics Canada's latest jobs report shows this August was a mixed bag for Saskatchewan workers.
Last month's unemployment rate was at 7.9 per cent, the agency reported Friday — the lowest unemployment rate among Canadian provinces for the month, but still considerably higher than the 5.1 per cent unemployment rate in August 2019.
Still, some Saskatchewan jobs that were lost at the start of the pandemic appear to be starting to come back, as the province's unemployment rate had been above 10 per cent for the previous three months.
Canada-wide, the labour market has remained particularly challenging for young people and low-wage workers. The number of people looking for work has increased for the sixth month in a row.
The report also raised concerns about gender gaps in labour force participation.
"Men aged 25 to 54 have been the least affected by the shutdown," it said.
Employment among women in the same age demographic was hit harder and has been slower to recover.
"This is an indication that women continue to engage in non-employment-related activities — including caring for children and family members — at a higher rate than prior to COVID-19," the report said.
For Saskatoon mother and business owner Lindsay Sanderson, access to quality and affordable child care is "essential to allowing women to participate in our workforce."
"The motherhood penalty is very real and is costing us a lot as a society. As a working mother ... I have had to choose between pursuing my career, pushing my business forward and doing what's best for my son based on my finances."
As children head back to school in the weeks to come, it is unclear if the employment rate for working mothers will continue to rebound.
Working mothers of young children reported being particularly concerned about their ability to access child care this year.