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Business, consumer and property services

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A young person entering the workforce in 2008 was likely to find a job in one of Canada’s many service industries. Three-quarters of Canadians work in services—from waiting on tables to designing architectural plans to selling cars and real estate.

And, in the downturn in the last quarter of 2008, jobs in services fared better than jobs in goods-producing industries. From October 2008 to April 2009, employment in the goods-producing sector declined 6.3%. By contrast, employment in the services-producing sector, which is traditionally less sensitive to economic slowdowns, slipped 0.5% over the same period.

Services generated more than $864 billion worth of output in 2008. From 1998 to 2008, the services sector grew by 40.5%, compared with 18.5% growth for goods-producing industries. Among the fastest growing service industries over this decade were administrative support, waste management and remediation services, wholesale trade, as well as professional, scientific and technical services.

Business services

With the growth of the service economy, business support services have become more important to the Canadian economy. Changes in business practices such as outsourcing have been made possible by advances in telecommunications technology. Consequently, the business support services industry—credit bureaus, telephone call centres, and document preparation and business service centres—has seen steady growth.

From 1998 to 2008, the number of jobs in business services increased 275.4%—a growth rate that has outpaced the economy’s employment growth rate, (32.9% since 1998). Business services’ percentage of the overall employment picture nearly tripled from 0.3% in 1998 to 0.8% in 2008.

Personal services

Canadians often turn to the services sector to take care of regular chores and enjoy a little leisure and entertainment. Good economic conditions in 2007, including rising personal disposable income, helped maintain the services growth.

Firms providing personal services earned $9.1 billion in 2007, up 5.5% from 2006. Total operating revenues for the food services and drinking places industry reached $42.4 billion in 2007, up 4.1% from 2006. This continued a trend of increases started in 2004, but the pace in 2007 was more moderate than the 4.9% posted in 2006.

Real estate services

The long-term rise in residential real estate prices has benefited agents, brokers and appraisers, whose total revenues grew by 7.8% to $10.7 billion in 2007.

Real estate sales in Ontario accounted for about half of the operating revenues earned by the industry. Saskatchewan led national growth with a 34% increase in operating revenues.