Windsor is bucking the national trend on pandemic recovery, posting the highest rate of unemployment among major cities for September.
The unemployment rate for the Census Metropolitan Area that includes Windsor and some of Essex County is 10.4 per cent as of September, according to Statistics Canada estimates released Friday. That's down slightly from 10.6 in August.
The national unemployment rate, however, has hit a pandemic low of 6.9 per cent. Canada's economy added 157,000 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said, bringing the number of jobs higher than where it was before COVID-19 hit.
In Windsor, unemployment remains far above pre-COVID-19 levels. In February of 2020, before the pandemic battered the global economy, the region posted an unemployment rate of 8.3 per cent.
Compared with February of 2020, in September 4,100 more people were unemployed in Windsor, according to Statistics Canada estimates.
'Here we are again, fighting'
Justin Falconer, CEO of Workforce WindsorEssex, said Windsor lost 500 jobs from last month and 900 people left the labour force in that time, meaning they are not working or looking for work.
But he says there's a bit of a caveat to last month's numbers.
Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, which informs the unemployment rate, was conducted before the region's biggest employer, the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant, resumed operations. So, current levels of unemployment may not be as high now as they were then, and since the unemployment rate is a three-month moving average, it will take some time to see those positions reflected in the numbers.
"But it is what it is," he said. "Unfortunately, Windsor's one of those communities, we're often the first into sort of tough economic times, and we're often the last out, so here we are again, fighting."
The Stellantis plant was shut down for much of the year due to a global shortage of microchips, which also affected feeder plants and other employers in that supply chain.
Given the outsize impact of those jobs on the local economy, Windsor's unemployment rate should improve as long as they can be maintained, Falconer said.
"Our region can never be at its best when those workers are not working. You know, it's our largest employer in the region, and when they're off work, we're fighting back with, like, a hand tied behind our backs."
At the same time, there are jobs to be had in Windsor. Workforce WindsorEssex compiled more than 6,000 job listings during the month of September, according to Falconer.