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Thursday, December 11, 2003
Employment in agriculture and agri-food1981 to 1996
The proportion of Canada's workers who are employed in the agriculture and agri-food sector held steady between 1981 and 1996 despite a big decline in the number of census farms, a new study has shown.
In 1996, just under 15% of the country's workforce, or about one person in every seven, worked in agriculture or agri-food. This was roughly the same proportion as it was 15 years earlier.
Canada had 276,548 census farms in 1996, down 13% from 1981. However, during this 15-year period, employment in agriculture and agri-food increased 24% to just over 2.1 million.
In comparison, the country's workforce increased by nearly 21% during this 15-year period.
Growth in employment in the agriculture and agri-food sector was entirely in the agri-food group, which is the part beyond the farmgate. Employment in agriculture remained virtually unchanged, while it rose 34% in agri-food.
Most of this growth in agri-food was due to an increase in jobs in food and beverage services.
In 1981, more people worked on farms than in restaurants, bars and taverns. By 1996, the food and beverage service sector was 63% larger than employment on farms.
Almost 1.7 million people worked in the agri-food group in 1996, about three-quarters of the sector's total workforce.
The study showed that the nature of agri-food employment and where it is being done is changing. Employment in agriculture and agri-food is more predominant in rural areas. However, this concentration is declining, due to the declining intensity of employment on farms in predominantly rural regions.
Within the agri-food group, employment during the 15-year period increased the most in the food and beverage service sector. The sector created 336,000 new jobs, a 74% gain.
In contrast, about 15,000 fewer people were working in Canada's food processing sector in 1996, but more food was being processed. Mechanization was a major factor in this decline.
Rural regions adjacent to urban areas gained a greater share of food processing employment. Predominantly rural regions also gained a higher proportion of jobs in restaurants, bars and taverns.
The study More Than Just Farming: Employment in Agriculture and Agri-food in Rural and Urban Canada is now available in the Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin series (21-006-XIE, free).
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Ray Bollman (613-951-3747; firstname.lastname@example.org), Agriculture Division.