Canada-wide Overview

In September 2021, 18 months after COVID-19 was first declared a global pandemic, the number of employed Canadians returned to pre-pandemic levels. After declining for five consecutive months, the national unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in October – 1 percentage point shy of the rate prior to the pandemic (5.7% in February 2020). As of July 2021, the number of total active businesses in Canada was close to 1% higher than what it was prior to the pandemic.

Change in Employment¹
(Feb 2020 – Oct 2021)

32,100 (0.2%)

Unemployment Rate¹
(October 2021)


Change in # of Active Businesses³
(Feb 2020 – Jul 2021)

8,377 (0.9%)

Innovation Corridor Overview

Employment across the Innovation Corridor has been steadily climbing since June and, as of October, there are 45,000 more jobs than there were in February 2020 – a 1% increase from pre-pandemic levels. While the participation rate has exceeded pre-pandemic levels, the employment rate is still 0.7 percentage points lower. Transportation and warehousing, accommodation and food services, and construction are key sectors that continue to suppress employment, collectively accounting for a 96,000 net decline in jobs since October 2019.

Change in Employment²
(Feb 2020 – Oct 2021)

[3-month Moving Average]

44,900 (1.0%)

Unemployment Rate²
(October 2021)

[3-month Moving Average]


Change in # of Active Businesses³
(Feb 2020 – Jul 2021)

-317 (-0.1%)

Employment and Participation Rate


As restrictions were put into place to mitigate the pandemic’s impact, trips into all Business Districts in the Corridor declined sharply. The Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) has seen the least impact on overall visitation levels. Average weekday worker and visitor volumes into the GPDD are less than 6% below 2019 levels. Since the province began lifting restrictions in June 2021, most Business Districts saw four consecutive months of growth in workers relative to 2019 levels. Still, worker volumes remain at least 25% below 2019 levels in all Business Districts, except for the GPDD. The decline of workers and visitors is most pronounced in the Financial District – the heart of downtown Toronto and a subset of the Metropolitan Centre (MC).

 Consumer Spending, In-Person

Relative to 2019 figures, in-store spending declined by more than 50% across all Business Districts during the initial lockdown. As the province began reopening the economy in June, spending rebounded across all districts but has since stagnated. Since August, in-person consumer spending has recovered and is almost back to 2019 levels in the Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD). However, in-store purchases in all other districts remain well below pre-pandemic levels. In-person spending in the Metropolitan Centre (MC) continues to lag considerably and is still more than 40% lower than what it was in 2019.

Consumer Spending, E-commerce

Growth in e-commerce transactions within the Corridor is primarily driven by companies set up within the Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD). At the beginning of 2021, e-commerce transactions for businesses based within the GPDD grew as high as 40% relative to 2019 levels. Businesses set up in Regional Centers (RC) have recently experienced a sharp rise in e-commerce related purchases. Since the end of August, these purchases have been more than 30% higher than 2019 levels.

In-Person Consumer Spending, By Industry Group

On average, transportation and entertainment (T&E) has been the worst performing in-person spending category since the start of the pandemic. In recent months, however, spending on T&E purchases have surged. This has reduced the gap between T&E spending and retail and services-related spending. Retail continues to drive overall recovery for in-person spending in the Goods Production and Distribution District (GPDD) and Knowledge Creation District (KCD).

Metropolitan Centre

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.


  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