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January 2001     Vol. 2, no. 1

The Labour Market in 2000

Geoff Bowlby

  • The year 2000 was another good one for the Canadian labour market. Employment continued a four-year climb, while the unemployment rate remained at a low not seen since the 1970s.
  • In the first nine months of 2000, goods-producing GDP increased by 2.2%, about half the comparable rate in 1999. At the same time, the service sector continued to grow at a pace similar to that of 1999.
  • Following strong growth of almost 6% in 1999, manufacturing employment slowed to a more moderate pace in 2000. Declining over the summer, it picked up strongly in the last three months, ending the year up 60,000 (2.7%).
  • Of the 319,000 increase in employment in 2000, some 263,000 jobs were full-time while the remaining 56,000 were part-time. This equates to growth rates of 2.2% and 2.1%, respectively. In 1999, part-time employment had actually fallen
  • Employment was also up in sales and service occupations. Over the year, some 124,000 (3.4%) sales and service workers were added, driven by hiring at retail and wholesale outlets. But, while the number of these workers in trade rose in 2000, that of retail and wholesale store managers actually fell.
  • The year 2000 was the first since 1986 that self-employment declined. The drop was significant, as 146,000 fewer people worked for themselves by the end of the year, a decline of 5.8%. About one-third of this can be attributed to reduced farm employment. The number of self-employed farmers declined by 50,000.
  • In contrast to self-employment, the increase in the number of private sector employees was unusually strong in 2000, jumping 376,000 (4%). With the increase in 2000, the proportion of all employed people engaged in paid employment in the private sector finally surpassed the 1989 peak.
  • For the second consecutive year, more people worked in the public sector, which rose by 89,000. With declines in both public administration and education employment in 2000, health care and social assistance provided most of the increase.
  • Over the year, employment among women of "core" working age (25 to 54) increased by 113,000 (2.3%). This exceeded their population growth, pushing their employment rate up 0.9 percentage points over the year to 74.4%.
  • Employment rose in almost every province, especially Ontario, the largest. Moreover, although 40% of all employment was in that province, 60% of the increase occurred there. Also gaining disproportionately were Alberta, British Columbia and the three Maritime provinces.


Geoff Bowlby is with the Labour Statistics Division. He can be reached at (613) 951-3323 or

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