SAULT STE. MARIE -- Employment stats for Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area show a steady jobs picture heading into 2021.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public health restrictions may cause some long-term uncertainty.

The Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation, or AWIC, said December jobs figures show the pandemic has been good for some sectors.

Sault Ste Marie’s unemployment rate stands at 5.4 per cent, which is slightly lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 5.1 per cent - and lower than Ontario’s jobless rate of 9.1 per cent.

“Nurses, PSWs, in-home support workers, and things like that,” said Jonathan Coulman, executive director of AWIC. “Just based on jobs postings, those were the most in-demand types of occupations.”

Coulman said unemployment in and around the Sault has remained steady since the beginning of the pandemic. Job boards show sectors other than healthcare have been hiring.

“There continues to be a lot of postings related to the pandemic in areas like delivery, food service, and, of course, healthcare,” said Michael Ward with Employment Solutions. “And as well we continue to see some interest in the financial/administrative sector with a lot of employers looking for administrative assistance, bookkeepers, and financial personnel.”

However, Coulman said the lockdown and new restrictions announced Tuesday by Premier Doug Ford will certainly impact the local employment scene.

“Hopefully we get more vaccinations in our community so we can open up again and then look into the summertime and next fall as regular employment levels and getting back to our economic norms,” he said.