Employment in Toronto grew 8.9% between 2001 and 2006 to 2,627,400. However, this was about half the pace of the 17.0% growth from 1996 to 2001. In 2006, 63.7% of Toronto's working age population was employed, down from 64.7% in 2001. During this time, Toronto's unemployment rate rose from 5.9% to 6.7%.
Employment growth in Toronto was hampered by the faltering manufacturing sector, most notably textiles and, to a lesser extent, computer manufacturing. However, these losses were offset by employment gains in health care and social assistance and financial services.
The number of people in Toronto who worked in cut and sew clothing manufacturing fell by 5,000 between 2001 and 2006, an average annual decline of 7.1%. At the same time, employment in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing fell by just over 4,400, or 13.4% a year.
Despite these manufacturing losses, employment in Toronto increased in several key areas, mostly in services.
In Toronto, the largest employment gains over the 5-year period were in the health care and social assistance (30,800 or +3.1% per year), bringing employment to 215,000 in 2006. Gains were concentrated in hospitals (+9,000) and nursing and residential care facilities (+6,300).
Employment in educational services got a boost in Toronto between 2001 and 2006, growing by an average of 3.6% per year. More elementary and secondary teachers were added to the payroll as these teachers increased their ranks by 12,200. Hiring at universities (+7,500) also contributed to the industry's gains.
As the nation's financial centre, Toronto accounted for 29% of workers in the banking industry, including credit unions. Employment in the deposit-accepting intermediary field (establishments primarily engaged in accepting deposits and lending funds) increased by 9,300, an average gain of 2.5% a year.
The number of food wholesaler–distributors workers rose by 5,700, or 7.1% each year on average. Toronto accounted for one-fifth of all such workers in Canada. In addition, the number of workers in wholesalers–distributors of pharmaceuticals, toiletries, cosmetics and sundries rose by about 2,500, or 5.2% a year. Toronto accounted for 31% of all employees in this industry.
The offices of real estate agents and brokers in Toronto added 5,400 workers, or 5.3% each year on average. Although growth in this field was faster in Calgary and Vancouver, Toronto added more workers in the industry between 2001 and 2006 and accounted for one-quarter of all the workers in this industry.
Mirroring the national trend, Toronto also experienced growth in its construction industry. Between 2001 and 2006, 21,900 workers were added to the industry, an annual average growth rate of 3.4%.