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Employment in the census metropolitan area of Montréal grew to 1,835,800 in 2006, an 8.6% increase from 2001. However, this was a deceleration from the 11.8% pace of growth Montréal experienced from 1996 to 2001. Its unemployment rate declined from 7.5% to 6.9% by 2006.
In 2006, 61.9% of Montréal's working-age population was employed, up from 60.8% in 2001. Gains in several service areas helped offset losses in the textile and aerospace industries.
The largest decline in employment occurred among workers in cut and sew clothing manufacturing. This industry shed 10,200 jobs, an annual average decline of 8.2%. Montréal accounted for well over one-third (36.8%) of Canada's workers in cut and sew manufacturing in 2006.
Montréal is an important centre for the aerospace industry, accounting for 47% of all of Canada's aerospace product and parts manufacturing workers in 2006. Employment in this industry was 23,400 in 2006, down by 3,000, or 2.4% on average each year.
On the other hand, employment rose in several key areas from 2001. The number of banking and credit union employees in Montréal increased by 7,300, an average of 4.0% a year, faster than the rate in Toronto.
Montréal accounts for one-quarter (25%) of all wholesaler–distributors of pharmaceuticals, toiletries, cosmetics and sundries. This industry gained nearly 2,700 jobs, or 7.5% on average each year.
Quebec's universal day care was announced in 1997 and since then daycare service workers have seen rapid employment growth. Since 2001, the number of child daycare service workers in Montréal increased by 8,800 to 29,300 by 2006, an average of 7.5% each year.
The number of employees in personal care services also rose a strong 4,700, or averaging 5.4% annually. These include workers in spas and beauty salons.
Montréalers demonstrated their commitment to the arts and recreation between 2001 and 2006, as shown by the 4.5% annual average employment growth in its arts, entertainment and recreation industry. Gains were concentrated in amusement and recreation industries (+3,400), and among independent artists, writers and performers (+1,500), and performing arts workers (+1,500).