Many job sectors in Canada and across the world were impacted by the recent COVID-19 pandemic and in April 2020 approximately one million jobs were lost in Canada. How have jobs in Canada recovered since the pandemic?

In this article, we explore the job situation across Canada, including details on the number of Canadians in employment in December 2023, the number of jobs across Canada, and the number of vacancies in different employment sectors.

Jobs Statistics for Canadians

  • In December 2023, over 20 million Canadians were in employment,
  • The unemployment rate in Canada was 5.8% in December 2023
  • Except in 2020, the number of employed persons has risen year-on-year since 2013.
  • With an average hourly rate of $47.86, the utility sector has the highest average pay across the employment sectors.
  • Retail trade is the biggest job sector in Canada with just over 2 million employees.
  • With 7.4 million jobs, Ontario has the most jobs in Canada.
  • The number of job vacancies has been record high in Canada in 2021 and 2022.
  • Canadian workers are the most satisfied with their jobs according to an international survey.

Jobs in Canada

As of November 2023, there were 20.16 million Canadians in paid employment. This represents a slight increase of 0.8% from December 2022 when there were 19,770,300 employed persons in Canada. The unemployment rate in December 2023, at 5.8%, was 0.8% higher than it was in January 2023. 

The average weekly pay in November 2023 was $1,305, up from $1,180.21 since January 2023. The average minimum wage in Canada is $15.50 per hour, while the average hourly earnings were $35.16 in November 2023. In the third quarter of 2023, there were 737,530 job vacancies in Canada.

Employment in Canada in the Last Ten Years

There has been an upward trend in the number of people in employment, either employed or self-employed, in Canada in the last ten years. There were 17,58 million employed persons in Canada in 2013 compared to 20 million employed persons in December 2023. The numbers have risen each year in the last ten years except in 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of employed Canadians fell to 18 million in 2020.

Wages in Canada

The hourly wages in Canada have increased across all sectors and the average hourly rate rose from $27.52 in 2015 to $35.16 in November 2023. The best hourly rate is in the utility sector where employees earn $47.86 per hour on average.

This is followed by the forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil, and gas industries, with an average hourly rate of $44.30. The top three are completed by the professional, scientific, and technical sectors with $41.64.

The lowest paying sector is the accommodation and food services where employees earn $18.50 per hour on average. In agriculture, the average hourly pay is $21.75, and in wholesale and retail trade $24.70.

Which Sectors Have The Most Jobs?

There are eighteen different main employment sectors in Canada. The largest sector by the number of employees is the retail trade sector, with just over 2 million employees. The other sectors in the top five in Canada are manufacturing with 1.6 million, construction with 1.5 million, professional, scientific, and technical with 1.4 million, and accommodation and food services with 1.1 million. These figures include people who are employed or self-employed and working either full or part-time.

Number of Jobs in Provinces and Territories in Canada

The number of jobs across the provinces and territories in Canada is related to the number of residents. Since Ontario has the highest population, it also has the highest number of jobs, with 7,405,790. The number of jobs in all provinces and territories is listed below.

Province or Territory

Number of Jobs

Ontario

7.4 million

Quebec

4.1 million

British Columbia

2.7 million

Alberta

2.2 million

Manitoba

683 thousand

Saskatchewan

572 thousand

Nova Scotia

468 thousand

New Brunswick

362 thousand

Newfoundland and Labrador

215 thousand

Prince Edward Island

79 thousand

Northwest Territories

27 thousand

Yukon

26 thousand

Nunavut

20 thousand

Job Vacancies in Canada

During 2023, the number of job vacancies fell in Canada following a period where the number of vacancies kept climbing. In the third quarter of 2021, there were 912,600 vacancies compared to 991,680 in September 2022. The rise in vacancies has followed the easing of restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As the economy has recovered from the impacts of the pandemic, a record number of vacancies has coincided with growth in employment and falling rates of unemployment. However, that situation has since changed and in the third quarter of 2023, there were 737,530 vacancies across the country. 

Changes in Job Vacancies Across Industrial Sectors

Between the third quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of 2019, eighteen out of twenty major industrial sectors saw job vacancies increase. Two-thirds of the increase was within five sectors which were accommodation and food services at 112.8%, construction at 83.7%, healthcare and social assistance at 78.8%, manufacturing at 62.4%, and retail trade at 45.2%.

The only sectors with no increase in the number of vacancies were the real estate and rental sector and the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sectors.

Key Skills in Job Vacancies

Employers in Canada are looking for specific skills in their employees, which include active learning and critical thinking, technical skills, and complex problem-solving. In the third quarter of 2021, listening skills were very important in 83.9% of all vacant jobs in Canada.

Other highly valued skills listed in more than half of the vacancies were speaking at 73.5%, critical thinking at 69%, reading comprehension at 60.8%, social perceptiveness at 52.4%, and time management at 51.5%.

Low-Wage Occupations See The Biggest Vacancy Increases

Between the third quarters of 2019 and 2021, the number of vacancies increased the most in low-wage positions. In 2019, the jobs with the lowest average wages represented 48.9% of job vacancies. In 2021, the same jobs represented 50.9% of all vacancies. In contrast, the jobs with the highest average wages represented 10.5% of vacancies in 2019 compared to 9.4% in 2021.

Working From Home

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people worked from home and since then, studies have found that 39% of jobs in Canada could be carried out from home. Of course, there are substantial variations across industries, with some jobs better suited to working from home, while others are impossible to perform from home. For example, approximately 85% of jobs in finance and insurance can be carried out from home compared to only 6% of jobs in the accommodation and food service sector.

In April 2020, at the height of the pandemic, around 40% of employees in Canada did most of their work from home. This is considerably more than in 2016 when only 4% of the Canadian workforce did most of their hours from home. It is also less than in August 2021 when things were returning to normal and 23% worked most of their hours from home.

Job Satisfaction in Canada

Canadians are among the happiest workers in the world with almost two-thirds of the Canadian workforce saying they like or love their job. Close to a quarter of Canadians (24%) say they enjoy their work so much that they would do it for free. 40% of the workforce in Canada say they enjoy their job but would like it better with some changes, while 29% are happy with their jobs for the time being.

The level of job satisfaction in Canada is well above other countries surveyed including India, the UK, the US, France, and Germany. The Netherlands had the happiest workforce after Canada with 57% of the employees either loving or liking their jobs a lot.

Just 2% of Canadians said they hate their job and 5% do not like their jobs. In the US, 15% of people responding to the survey said they hate or dislike their jobs, a significantly higher figure than in Canada.

The most likely workers to be unhappy with their jobs in Canada are workers under 25. 13% of the workers under 25 years of age said they dislike their jobs and would like to do something different.

The survey also found that people earning more, especially those earning over $100,000 were more likely to be happy at work compared to people on lower wages. Only 44% of employees earning under $50,000 said they love or like their jobs a lot.

Summary

While around a million jobs were lost in Canada at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the job market has recovered well since then. The number of people employed in Canada has risen but the unemployment rate has increased slightly.  At the same time, there is a record number of open vacancies in Canada.

Ontario has the highest number of jobs in Canada with over 7 million jobs in the province. Nunavut has the least jobs with around 20,000 vacancies in the territory. The largest industry when measured by the number of jobs in Canada is the retail trade with over two million jobs. Manufacturing and construction are also both large employment sectors.

While the sector with the jobs with the highest average hourly rate is the utility sector with $47.86, the lowest paying jobs are in the accommodation and food services where the average hourly rate is only $18.50.

Canadian workers are among the happiest in the world with only 2% of the workforce saying they hate or dislike their job. Job satisfaction in Canada is the highest among people earning over $100,000 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

The industry that has the most jobs in Canada is the retail trade with just over 2 million jobs. It is followed by the manufacturing and construction sectors with 1.6 million and 1.5 million jobs, respectively.

20,160,000 Canadians were employed in July 2023. The number of employed persons in Canada has risen every year since 2013 except in 2020 when around one million jobs were lost because of COVID.

The best average wages in Canada are in the utility sector where the average hourly rate is $47.86. This is followed by $44.30 in the fishing, forestry, mining, quarrying, oil, and gas sector. On the other end of the pay spectrum are accommodation and food services with $18.50 and agriculture with $21.75 average hourly wages.

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