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Which Industries Are Creating Jobs?

November 05, 2013
Pedro Antunes Pedro Antunes
Forecasting and Analysis
Alicia Macdonald
Senior Economist
National Forecast

Canada has more than recovered all the jobs it lost during the recession. There are, however, big disparities when it comes to job creation by industry.

Of the 16 major industries covered by Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, just 2 have accounted for nearly 45 per cent of job growth since July 2009—the health care and social assistance industry, and construction.

Chart showing the employment gains by industry from July 2009 to September 2013

Demand for health care services does not depend on the ups and downs of the business cycle. This factor, coupled with the aging of Canada’s population (which increases demand for health care), explains why this industry has continued to grow at a steady pace.

The construction sector was hit hard at the beginning of the recession, as housing starts and business investment dropped. The industry then benefited from government infrastructure programs designed to stimulate economic growth. As government stimulus was withdrawn, private sector investment accelerated and the industry continued to create jobs.

On the other end of the scale are the industries where employment has yet to recover and remains below where it was at the recession’s trough in July 2009—manufacturing and public administration, as well as other services, which include personal and laundry (such as esthetics and massage services) and private household (such as gardening and cleaning services.)

With cost containment a major budget theme for the federal and provincial governments, declines in public administration employment come as no surprise. The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, has continued to struggle alongside a U.S. recovery that remains sluggish. The good news is that an improving economic outlook, both here and in the United States, will accelerate income gains and increase demand for our manufactured goods. These factors are expected to lead to better job prospects in the other services and manufacturing industries, both of which are sensitive to the business cycle. Conversely, as the full effects of fiscal downsizing occur, employment levels in public administration are expected to decline again next year.

This is the fifth posting in our labour market series “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Looking at Canada’s Post-Recession Job Market.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Looking at Canada’s Post-Recession Job Market

Canada has more than recouped all the jobs that were lost during the last recession. But the gains have not been shared evenly among industries, provinces or even among demographic cohorts. The Conference Board is delving into Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey data to determine which industries have been driving job creation since the 2008–09 recession and which age groups have been the beneficiaries.


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