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Canada's Changing Labour Force, 2006 Census: Highlights

  • Between 2001 and 2006, total employment in Canada increased at an annual average rate of 1.7%, the fastest rate increase among the Group of Seven (G7) nations. Italy’s growth rate of 1.2% was second and France and the United States of America followed.
  • According to the census, employment in mining and oil and gas extraction reached 222,700 by 2006, an annual average gain of 7.5%. This was four times the national average of 1.7%. Alberta alone accounted for 70% of the employment growth in this industry. While employment in all parts of this industry increased, by far the fastest pace of growth was in oil and gas.
  • Employment increased a strong 4.5% per year on average in the larger construction sector. During the five-year period, this sector added an estimated 196,200 workers to its ranks, bringing total employment to 991,200 in 2006.
  • Manufacturing shed 136,700 jobs during the five-year period, equivalent to a 1.4% decline per year. This occurred in the wake of the rapidly appreciating Canadian dollar and shifts in production from Canada to other countries.
  • On the other hand, employment increased by 1.8% per year in retail trade. As a result, the gap between employment in retail and manufacturing closed rapidly during the five-year period. In 2001, about 373,900 more people were employed in manufacturing than in retail trade. By 2006, this gap had shrunk to only about 81,400.
  • Data for occupations largely reflected these industry developments. One of the fastest growing occupation categories over the five years was the construction industry. More specifically, the number of trades helpers and labourers increased by 52,300, or 57.2%, to 143,900.
  • In the textile industry, the number of sewing machine operators plunged by 18,300, or 32.7%. There was also a decline in the number of metal fabricators, including steel workers.
  • According to data on labour mobility, 563,000 or 3.4% of the total workforce moved to a different province or territory between 2001 and 2006. Mobility rates were highest in the territories and Alberta. In 2006, the mining and oil and gas extraction and public administration industries had the highest shares of interprovincial movers in their workforces.
  • Census data also showed that the aging of Canada’s labour force continued between 2001 and 2006. In 2006, workers aged 55 and older accounted for 15.3% of the total labour force, up from 11.7% in 2001.
  • Unemployment rates among Aboriginal peoples remained relatively high in 2006, but were down from 2001. Employment rates among the various Aboriginal groups rose between 2001 and 2006.
  • Among recent immigrants (those who arrived in Canada since 2001) of core working age (ages 25 to 54), the share who were employed was 67.0%, up 3.6 percentage points from 2001. This was faster than the gain among Canadian born, causing the gap between the employment rates of recent immigrants and the Canadian born to shrink from 17.5 percentage points in 2001 to 15.4 percentage points by 2006.

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