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May 2007
Vol. 8, no. 5

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Fuelling the economy
Cara Williams

  • In 2006, the contribution to GDP of all sectors of the oil and gas industry exceeded $40 billion (1997 dollars), and direct employment totalled almost 300,000.
  • In the upstream sector (exploration and extraction), production and investment have become driving forces in the economy. Between 1997 and 2005, investment increased almost 140% to $45.3 billion, and the value of oil and gas production increased over 245% to $108 billion.
  • Jobs in the oil and gas industry are much less likely to be unionized than other jobs (12% versus 32%). They are also more likely to be full-time (88% versus 82%) and held by men (72% versus 53%).
  • Employment in oil and gas extraction increased 43% between 1997 and 2006 (from about 55,000 to 79,000). Average hourly earnings in 2006 were $30.36.
  • Downstream employment varied dramatically. Of the 117,000 workers, 63% worked at gas stations where hourly earnings were about $8.60. For the 14% in petroleum and coal products manufacturing, earnings were significantly higher at just over $28 an hour.

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Cara Williams is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at 613-951-6972 or

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