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Canada lost nearly 322,000 manufacturing jobs from 2004 to 2008, with more than one in seven manufacturing jobs disappearing over the period.
More than 1.5 million jobs were created in the rest of the economy during this period. The losses resulted in the erosion of the share of manufacturing jobs in the economy. In 2004, manufacturing represented 14.4% of total employment; in 2008, the proportion was 11.5%.
The manufacturing employment decline from 2004 to 2008 followed a period of growth from 1998 to 2000 and a period of relative stagnation from 2001 to 2004.
Almost all manufacturing industries have seen a sharp decline since 2004. Only a few saw employment increases from 2004 to 2008, notably manufacturing of transportation equipment (excluding motor vehicles and parts), petroleum and coal products, and computer and electronic products.
Although jobs were lost in the vast majority of manufacturing industries, some were hit harder than others. Textiles and clothing, long one of the largest manufacturing employers in the country, saw almost half of its jobs disappear.
The automotive industry was also hit hard. From 2004 to 2008, one in five motor vehicle and more than one in four motor vehicle parts manufacturing jobs were lost.
Ontario lost the majority, 198,600 manufacturing jobs, with nearly one in five (18.1%) jobs in this category being lost in Ontario in just four years. Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia also lost more than 10%.
The country's very large cities were hit as hard as small towns and rural areas. Small towns and rural areas were as likely as very large cities to replace lost manufacturing jobs with jobs in other industries, for example, in the service sector or in construction. However, in small towns and rural areas, such jobs are often much lower paying than manufacturing jobs.
This article looks at recent trends in manufacturing employment in Canada, with data from the Labour Force Survey, a monthly survey of about 54,000 households. Employment is measured by the number of persons occupying a job.
These trends are not unique to Canada — manufacturing has been declining in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries. The situation in Canada was noticeable for being somewhat delayed, with manufacturing jobs beginning to decline only in 2004, while other countries, notably the United States, had already registered significant job losses for several years.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3701.
The article "Trends in manufacturing employment" is now available in the February 2009 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 10, no. 2 (75-001-XWE, free), from the Publications module of our website.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this article, contact André Bernard (613-951-4660; email@example.com), Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division.
Also in this issue of Perspectives on Labour and Income, "The labour market in 2008" looks at how employment, unemployment and earnings fared over the year. Following six years of strong employment growth, 2008 started with promise, the unemployment rate was at a 33-year low of 5.8% in January and the employment rate reached a record 63.9% in February. Over the year, however, the situation weakened. In December, the unemployment rate stood at 6.6%; the employment rate, 63.1%.
The article "The labour market in 2008" is now available in the February 2009 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 10, no. 2 (75-001-XWE, free), from the Publications module of our website.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this article, contact Jeannine Usalcas (613-951-4720; firstname.lastname@example.org), Labour Statistics Division.