Media Release: Ontario Lost 403,000 Jobs in March, Nearly 1.2 Million Workers Affected by COVID-19


[La version française suit le texte anglais.]


TORONTO, April 16, 2020 - The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has released a report looking at Ontario’s March 2020 labour market results in the wake of government measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

Ontario employment dropped by 403,000 jobs in March, more than four times larger than the previous record monthly job loss in January 2009, during the global financial crisis. As a result, Ontario’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.6 per cent in March, up from 5.5 per cent in February, marking the largest monthly increase in the jobless rate on record.

Almost all the job losses were related to the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted a progressive province-wide shutdown of most non-essential activities beginning in mid-March. The FAO estimates that about 1.2 million Ontario workers were directly affected by the shutdowns through either job losses or sharply reduced hours, representing almost one in six jobs in the province.

To learn more, read the full report here.


  • Both full-time (-249,000) and part-time (-154,000) employment declined sharply in March. Almost 80 per cent of the job losses occurred in the private sector (-320,000).
  • Almost all major industry groups recorded lower employment in March with particularly steep job losses in the accommodation and food service sector (-119,600) and wholesale and retail trade (-87,600) .
  • Young workers (ages 15-24), many of whom are employed in temporary or part-time positions, experienced a loss of 158,800 jobs, down -15.8 per cent from February.
  • Female part-time workers were also more affected by the job losses in March, with employment down by 109,100 jobs or -12.4 per cent.
  • The total number of hours worked in Ontario dropped dramatically, falling 13.1 per cent compared to a year earlier.

About the FAO

Established by the Financial Accountability Officer Act, 2013, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) provides independent analysis on the state of the Province’s finances, trends in the provincial economy and related matters important to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Visit and follow us on Twitter at


For further information, please contact:
Jessica Martin l 647 527 2385 l l