Canadian postsecondary students are weeks away from stepping into a job market that is reeling from unprecedented layoffs, raising concern about how those returning to school in the fall will fund their studies and whether graduates will bear long-term scars of unfortunate timing.

Just weeks ago, the outlook was favourable. At 5.6 per cent, the national unemployment rate in February was close to a record low and companies were struggling to find workers.

But in short time, COVID-19 has decimated the labour market. Companies in virtually every industry have laid off employees or reduced their hours, and the federal government expects four million people will apply for emergency income aid. Already, students have seen interviews cancelled, summer programs put on hiatus and job listings dry up as they try to plan their next move while juggling final assignments and exams outside of campus.

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