NWT lost 4,000 jobs in pandemic, says finance minister

Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek during a briefing with reporters on October 19, 2020
Finance minister Caroline Wawzonek during a briefing with reporters on October 19, 2020.

The Northwest Territories lost approximately 4,000 jobs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its finance minister said on Monday, but she characterized the impact as less severe than expected. 

Caroline Wawzonek, expanding on her Friday remarks about the NWT’s economic recovery, told reporters most of the jobs lost were held by non-residents and many jobs in the territory had returned.

The NWT labour force survey, a monthly statistical overview of employment in the territory, indicates there are now 1,000 fewer jobs than in the early spring, before the pandemic’s onset.

The hardest-hit sectors of the territory’s economy were tourism and retail sales, which saw steep drops in job numbers. The service sector accounted for 80 percent of all job losses in the NWT.



A graph prepared by the territorial government indicates job changes by industry.

Wawzonek said there weren’t as many job losses as expected at the start of the pandemic, however, because of the size of the government.

Wawzonek said the public sector acted as an “economic stabilizer” as almost 8,000 employees were able to keep working from home. 

Comparatively, Wawzonek said, provinces with smaller government sectors had more job losses. Between February and May, for example, the number of NWT jobs fell by about 14 percent, compared to around 18 percent in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec. 

By the end of the year, Wawzonek said the number of jobs in the territory. is expected to return to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels – but job recovery won’t be evenly distributed.

“Some sectors are going to be much more hard-hit and not reach their pre-pandemic levels, whereas others will be fully recovered,” she said.

The NWT government expects to return to 90 percent of its pre-pandemic job figure by December.