In contrast to the goods industries, employment increased across the board among the industries in Canada's services sector.
Census data showed that employment in Canada's big retail trade sector, the largest service industry, was approaching parity with manufacturing.
Employment increased by 1.8% a year on average in retail trade between 2001 and 2006, or a total of 155,800 workers. This put the number of retail jobs at just over 1,815,000. Most of the big employment increase came from grocery stores, building materials and supplies stores and automobile dealerships.
This was only 81,400 retail workers short of total employment in the manufacturing sector in 2006. This gap has closed rapidly during the five-year period. In 2001, about 373,900 more people were employed in manufacturing than in retail trade.
Possibly as a spin-off to the housing boom, employment growth was a strong 3.3% on average in real estate, rental and leasing. This industry employed just over 293,000 people in 2006. This increase was due primarily to a 5.9% gain per year in the offices of real estate agents and brokers.
Strong growth also occurred in professional, scientific and technical services, which added 142,300 jobs, equal to an annual average rate of 2.9%. One factor in the growth of this industry was the demand for workers in architectural, engineering and related services. This was likely the result of increased demand for these services from the construction and oil and gas industries. The fastest growth occurred in the Yukon Territory, and Saskatchewan, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia.
Canada's second largest service industry, health care and social assistance, added 199,900 workers, equal to 2.6% on average each year, well above the national average. This brought total employment in health care and social assistance to 1,667,700 in 2006. Increases were largest in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. The gains were widespread, from ambulatory services to medical laboratories to hospitals.
Employment in the educational services industry rose by 123,600, or an average annual rate of 2.4%, bringing the total to 1,110,000 in 2006. Universities saw particularly fast growth, as enrolment also climbed.
Public administration grew by 77,000 to reach 943,700 in 2006, an average annualized growth rate of 1.7%, and the same rate as national employment growth. Ontario, Quebec and Alberta were the biggest contributors. Overall, the bulk of these gains came from local, municipal, and regional public administrations. However, in Quebec, public administration employment gains were mostly at the federal level.