Auto sector slow to hire back in the third quarter as manufacturers lagged

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TORONTO — DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. says that the Canadian auto sector has been slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, though employment is still down nearly 13 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same three months last year.

The report says that the auto sector gained back nearly 15,000 jobs in the third quarter, after layoffs in the first half of this year when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down dealerships and plants.

But jobs in many parts of the auto industry were still down by double digits in summer 2020 compared with 2019, with an 18.3 per cent drop in manufacturing jobs, a 16.6 per cent fall in dealership jobs, and 12.6 per cent fewer maintenance jobs.

Employment was also down nearly 12 per cent for makers of auto parts and accessories, and 10.1 per cent at parts and accessory stores, while gigs in road construction and gas stations bounced back a bit quicker.

The consultancy says that on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of General Motors’ plant in Oshawa, Ont. at the end of last year has also taken a toll on the industry’s workforce.

DesRosiers Managing partner Andrew King says recent labour deals to revive plants in Oshawa and elsewhere have brightened the outlook for the auto industry, as has news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

“The recovery process in employment has been slow for the automotive sector … but signs of recovery are present nonetheless,” King said in the report.