Canada-wide Overview

As of April 2022, employment in Canada was 456,900 jobs (or 2.4%) higher than in February 2020. After rising to 6.5% in January 2022, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% – now 0.5 percentage points below the February 2020 rate. In January 2022, active businesses in Canada were 1.6% above pre-pandemic levels.

Change in Employment¹
(Feb 2020 – April 2022)

456,900  (2.4%)

Unemployment Rate¹
(April 2022)

5.2%

Change in # of Active Businesses³
(Feb 2020 – Jan 2022)

14,146 (1.6%)

Innovation Corridor Overview

After a dip in January 2022, total employment in the Innovation Corridor continued to grow. As of April 2022, employment was 144,800 above pre-pandemic levels – 3.2% higher. The employment rate was 63.6%, now 0.2 percentage points higher than the February 2020 rate. At 6.1%, the unemployment rate is 0.6 percentage points above the pre-pandemic rate. Employment losses since the start of the pandemic are concentrated in Accommodation and food services; Business, building and other support services (includes administrative and support services, waste management and remediation, and firms that manage other companies and/or hold their assets); and Other services sectors (includes repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services, and religious and civic organizations).

Change in Employment²
(Feb 2020 – April 2022)

[3-month Moving Average]

144,800 (3.2%)

Unemployment Rate²
(April 2022)

[3-month Moving Average]

6.1%

Change in # of Active Businesses³
(Feb 2020 – Jan 2022)

3,580 (1.6%)

Employment and Participation Rate

Mobility

At the onset of the pandemic, trips into all Business Districts in the Corridor declined sharply, falling as much as 90% in the Financial District. Leading up to the Omicron wave, most Business Districts were experiencing an upward surge in the number of weekday workers and visitors relative to 2019 levels. The spread of the Omicron variant reversed this trend as worker and visitor volumes declined again; as of April 2022, both trip types are below 2019 levels across all Business Districts but are trending upwards in the districts that experienced the biggest drops. For example, throughout the pandemic, the Financial District – the heart of downtown Toronto and a subset of the Metropolitan Centre (MC) – has seen the sharpest decline in visits. However, as COVID case numbers have fallen and restrictions have been lifted, the Financial District and MC have seen an increasing number of individuals return. The Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) – which hosts many jobs deemed essential through the pandemic, including those related to manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution – has seen the least impact on worker and visitor volumes compared to pre-pandemic times.

Disclaimer: Please note that since the tracker update in November 2021, there was a methodological change applied to the consumer spending data by Moneris. A different indexing methodology was applied to better represent the volatility of spending during the pandemic. Moneris also made adjustments to the data to capture relevant changes in their merchant samples to ensure businesses closures, moves to a different payment provider, and new merchants were appropriately captured. Consumer spending estimates for the Knowledge Creation District have been removed due to its small geographic presence.

 Consumer Spending, In-Person

Mobility levels have a direct relationship to in-person consumer spending. Relative to 2019 figures, in-store spending declined by at least 50% across all Business Districts during the initial lockdown. As the province began reopening the economy in June 2021, spending rebounded across all districts but started to stagnate. During the Omicron wave, in-person spending declined in most Business Districts but has since recovered. As of April 2022, in-person spending is at or near its highest level since the start of the pandemic across all Business Districts and above 2019 levels for all Business Districts except the Metropolitan Centre (MC). And while in-person spending in the MC remains 20% below 2019 levels, it continues to trend upwards.

Consumer Spending, E-commerce

Quantified through ‘card not present’ transactions processed by Moneris, e-commerce activity has boomed for businesses set up within the Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) and Services and Mixed-Use District (SMUD). Both districts have consistently experienced double digit growth in e-commerce sales through the pandemic relative to 2019 levels, with growth reaching more than 50% through several periods in 2021. According to Statistics Canada, e-commerce retail sales across Canada have accounted for 6.5% of total retail sales between September 2021 and February 2022, up from 3.3% between 2018 and 2019.

In-Person Consumer Spending, By Industry Group

Outside of the Metropolitan Centre (MC), retail has generally been the best performing in-person spending category since the start of the pandemic. This is particularly true for the Services and Mixed-Use District (SMUD), where retail sales have been more than 20% higher than 2019 levels since July 2021. Conversely, travel and entertainment (T&E) has been the worst performing spending category in most Business Districts, but has seen significant recovery in recent months.

Metropolitan Centre

Business Financial Health

As of the end of 2021, the number of companies facing major negative occurrences have been declining across the Corridor. Negative occurrences include instances where a business bounces a cheque, faces legal action, is pursued by a collection agency for repayment, suffered a legal judgment against the business, or deferred credit payment. However, data from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada shows that business insolvencies spiked in Q1 of 2022. Bankruptcies and proposals (an alternative to a bankruptcy, whereby debt repayment terms are negotiated with creditors to reduce the amount owed and help companies remain operational) have risen by 14% in the region, mostly driven by increasing bankruptcies in the Toronto CMA. Moreover, the average balance of outstanding loans that are 90+ days past due has been rising. The average balance of these loans has grown by 30%+ across all areas in the Corridor since January 2020.

Key Terms and Definitions

In June 2021, the Board produced a series of reports – one for each district – highlighting considerations for reopening and outlining strategies to help the region transition from crisis towards opportunities for recovery. To learn more about each district, and to read the full reports, click here.

Recovery Tracker Partners

Recovery Tracker insights
are powered by
Moneris Data Services

About the Recovery Tracker - Enabling Evidence-Based Decisions

Developed by the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s data-driven Economic Blueprint Institute, this Recovery Tracker is a tool meant to provide businesses, decision-makers and other interested parties with timely analysis of our region’s economic recovery. Updated monthly, the Tracker will feature additional indicators over time to provide a more comprehensive picture of our economy and builds on the Board’s Business District framework to analyze the region. Consumer spending data provided by Moneris.

Footnotes:

  1. Note: Seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0287-01

  2. Note: Three-month moving average, seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0380-01

  3. Note: Seasonally adjusted, business sector industries, active businesses are those businesses that reported having one or more employees in a given month.
    Source: Statistics Canada, Table 33-10-0270-01