LONDON, ONT -- Erin Ironsides has felt the economic impact of the pandemic first-hand after recently being laid off from the airline she worked for.

“We are hoping this is only short term, but it’s unknown right now how long this is going to last," she says.

Along with her airline job, Ironside has also run a wedding decorating business for 25 years called Petals N Pots, but adds “Unfortunately that has been put on hold, a lot of our clients have chosen to postpone until next year.”

She says the multiple blows to employment have been tough

“I worry about it not coming back the way that it did. Having had my business for 25 years I don’t know if the wedding industry will be impacted permanently by this.”

Ironside is definitely not alone, the lastest national unemployment numbers for April show job losses during the pandemic have been greater for women.

“Fifty-two per cent. So, more than half of the job loss is being experienced by women and the reason is the difference in industries,” says economist Mike Moffatt. “The industries being hit the worst now is hotel, airlines, food and restaurants.”

Moffatt has been tracking the numbers, and says historically men are usually hit harder during recessions, however with the service industry being affected the most this time, that could prove problematic long term for women.

“Economists expect women to be continuously more disproportionately be impacted by this because of that mix of industry and because of what’s happening to schools and daycares.”

As for Ironside, she’s hoping she can keep her wedding business afloat by officiating small ceremonies in the short term, while at the same time trying to keep positive.

“I’m trying not to focus on not so much what I’m missing out on and more of what I still have.”

Unemployment hits historic levels

Unemployment has reached historic levels as London and the rest of the country continue to grapple with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In London the unemployment rate jumped more than three percentage points to 8.9 per cent. In March, the unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent but did not reflect the true effect of the pandemic.

Nationally the unemployment rate climbed to 13 per cent, a rate second only to December of 1982, which saw an unemployment rate of 13.1 per cent.

Regionally some communities are seeing higher rates with Brantford at 9.4 per cent, and Windsor nearing the national level at 12.9 per cent.

Meanwhile Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo is sitting at 7.8 per cent with Hamilton seeing a similar rate.

The national rate represents a 5.2 per cent change over March which already saw a significant jump.

According to the Statistics Canada report the shock to the labour market was only partially reflected in the March numbers.

The new numbers are based on a sample taken during the week of April 12 to 18, at which point the full economic shutdown had been felt.

April saw roughly two million people lose their jobs, bringing the total decline in employment to more than three million.

The decline in employment is the largest observed by Statistics Canada.

Since February there has been a 15.7 per cent decline, compared to the 1981-82 recession which saw a decline of 5.4 per cent over 17 months.