May 2021

Spotlight on data and research

Working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic: An estimate of worker preferences

Using a supplementary question added to the February 2021 Labour Force Survey, this article estimates the overall share of total hours that employees might prefer working from home once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The study shows that after the pandemic Canadian employees would prefer working from home 24% of their total work hours. This is almost five times the overall share of total hours that Canadian employees worked from home prior to COVID-19 (5%).

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The effects of child tax benefits on the income of single mothers

This article highlights key findings of a recent study on the effects of expansions in child tax benefits on after-tax income of single mothers. The analysis centers on the 2015 reform to the Universal Child Care Benefit and 2016 introduction of the Canada Child Benefit.

Prior to 2015, single women without children had higher after-tax incomes than single mothers. From 2015 onward, the income gap between these two groups of women has closed due to the increase in child benefits going to single mothers. The likelihood of single mothers being in low-income status also declined by about 6 percentage points from 2014 to 2018.

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Differences in living arrangements of older seniors by mother tongue

More than one-half of Canadians aged 75 and older with Punjabi, Tamil, and Urdu mother tongues lived in multigenerational households in 2016, compared with less than 5% of seniors in some groups with European-origin mother tongues. In collective living arrangements, the shares ranged from 3% for the groups with Punjabi and Gujarati mother tongues to 16% among the group with English as their mother tongue, and 22% among those with French as their mother tongue.

Across mother tongue groups, senior residents in nursing homes and senior residences differed largely in official language ability and income. In nine large Asian language groups, between 30% and 50% of senior residents could not speak an official language well enough to conduct a conversation. Furthermore, in five groups, the median annual income of senior residents was 26% to 34% lower than that of senior residents with English as their mother tongue.

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Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on productivity growth in Canada

During the pandemic, labour productivity had its second-highest increase since 1981, increasing by 3.8% from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020.  Structural changes towards industries with a larger share of essential activities contributed substantially to this growth.

Almost all industries experienced large variations in their output, hours worked and labour productivity in 2020. Industries that had larger declines in output and hours worked in the first half of 2020, as a result of lockdown policies, also experienced larger rebounds in the second half of 2020, when many non-essential businesses were reopened. In addition, faster adjustments in hours worked than in output caused labour productivity to increase in the first half of 2020 and to decrease in the second half of 2020. There is little correlation between an industry’s capacity for telework in 2019 and industry labour productivity growth in 2020.

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Gender differences in employment one year into the COVID-19 pandemic: An analysis by industrial sector and firm size

In Canada, the labour market disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have been consistently more severe for women than for men. Over the period from March 2020 to February 2021, women accounted for 53.7% of the year-over-year employment losses. This gap seems to be explained mainly by the high proportion of women working in service industries and by the employment gender gaps among small-sized firms in that sector.

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Research articles

Neighbourhood characteristics and life satisfaction of individuals in lower-, middle-, and higher-income families in Canadian metropolitan areas

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how individuals can be affected by the characteristics of their neighbourhoods. This study used survey responses of 46,000 individuals residing in almost 6,500 neighbourhoods across 29 Census Metropolitan Areas to investigate the pre-pandemic relationships between Canadians’ satisfaction with their lives and a large set of neighbourhood characteristics, including population density, median income, proximity to public transit, access to parks, green space and crime.

There was a positive correlation between life satisfaction and proximity to public transit and access to parks, and a negative correlation to crime for those in the bottom 20% of the family income distribution. There were no significant correlations among those in the middle 60% of income distribution, but there was a positive correlation with population density and green space for individuals in the top 20%.

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