Sorry About Your Jobs (Pass the Chardonnay)

Cheers! by Jan Smith.

Last year, I was curious about the emerging opinions coming out of the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Trump in the US.  I was intrigued because these votes reflected a visceral rejection of the status-quo.  In the background of the racism and the sexism were some sophisticated critiques about what is happening to jobs in remote areas, and who has done well by comparison.  I felt obliged to dig deeper and learn more.

I have produced two tables based on a simple download from the Statistics Canada website.  The data provides the total number of people employed across Canada, broken into forty broad categories described by National Occupational Classification codes or NOC codes.  NOC codes are helpful because they give you a general and simple explanation of the job.  I pulled 10 years of data for all employees age 15+ for both sexes.  I simplified this data to show the 10-year growth by number of jobs, the percentage growth, and the rank, with #1 being the fastest-growing career area and #40 being the fastest-declining.

Top-10 Occupations for Job Growth in Canada, 2007-2016

National Occupational Classification (NOC) New Jobs, 2007-2016 % Growth Rank
Professionals in law and social, community and government svcs      129,200 44% 1
Paraprofessionals in legal, social, community and education services      116,700 44% 2
Professional occupations in health (except nursing)        47,200 43% 3
Professional occupations in business and finance      166,700 40% 4
Admin and financial supervisors and administrative occupations      255,200 38% 5
Assisting occupations in support of health services        86,400 36% 6
Professional occupations in nursing        79,400 30% 7
Technical occupations in health        66,800 27% 8
Retail sales supervisors and specialized sales occupations        94,700 26% 9
Professional occupations in natural and applied sciences      126,800 23% 10
Total   1,169,100 34%  n.a.

The top five areas for job growth are professionals and supervisors in a variety of fields such as health, finance, or law.  These professions saw a 38-44% increase over the decade (about 4% growth per year).  This kind of growth implies the running of modern society demands more skill, decisions require professional specialization, and we need more educated how-to leadership overall.Classifications in rank 6-8 were themselves in the health sector.  In this second batch, an entire sector has benefited from growth.  Health care is an expensive and in-demand part of our economy, and there are raging battles about whether we should spend a lot more or slightly more.  What is notable is that it includes the professionals, the technicians, and also the assisting occupations.  That is, the doctors, nurses, X-ray technologists, and those who change beds and deliver food.  All along for the ride for this 27-36% increase in employment over ten years, or 3% per year.

For the top-ten NOC codes employment has increased from 3.4 million to 4.6 million, a subtotal of 1.2 million new jobs.  This is 34% growth overall, largely in the professions or in a single sector, health care.  These 1.2 million new jobs mean that a very large number of people entered good-job fields for the very first time.  These individuals might perceive that there are plenty of new opportunities ahead of them.  If they are new university graduates and/or millennials, they are probably also more likely to be women, ethnically diverse, sexually diverse, and possibly born abroad.  These are the winners in the modern labour market.

By contrast, the bottom-ten NOC codes are disproportionately in the non-degree-educated jobs in areas that move their hands or break a sweat to get work done.  These are jobs in manufacturing, utilities, natural resources, distribution, and working the land.  There are several office support and management positions rounding-out the bottom.  However, we know that those white-collar job losses are more than offset by job growth amongst those with professional credentials, shown in the top-ten list above.  Largely, the worst-off jobs are blue collar.

Ten Worst Occupations for Job Loss in Canada, 2007-2016

National Occupational Classification (NOC) Job Losses, 2007-2016 % Growth Rank
Service reps and other customer and personal services -48,800 -6% 31
Workers in natural resources, agriculture and related production -8,400 -8% 32
Distribution, tracking and scheduling co-ordination occupations -36,200 -11% 33
Harvesting, landscaping and natural resources labourers -10,100 -11% 34
Assemblers in manufacturing -32,300 -16% 35
Labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities -35,500 -19% 36
Processing and manufacturing machine operators -91,100 -23% 37
Office support occupations -226,600 -26% 38
Middle management in retail and wholesale -87,700 -28% 39
Senior management occupations -24,500 -35% 40
Total -601,200 -18%  n.a.

In the bottom-ten NOC codes, total employment declined from 3.4 million to 2.8 million, or about 600,000 jobs lost.  This is an 18% decline or 1.8% fewer jobs each year.

While it is common to talk about whether the economy and jobs are improving “on average,” we can miss a more interesting picture in the details.  On the whole, the total number of jobs increased from 14.2 to 15.3 million, which is 1.1 million new jobs or an 8.0% increase.  So yes, employment has been growing “on average.”  However, average means that some did extremely well and others did not.

There is an under-spoken story of those who have slipped, who have lost in some way.  These are not people who have replaced their accord with a civic.  These are people who have had to move in with their parents or children, apply for social assistance, and listen to politicians give sunny speeches about a brighter future.

Looking back, it only makes sense that someone angry and unreasonable will speak for them, and that it won’t be pretty.  Their critique rests on some truth, regardless of their choice of words.

One thought on “Sorry About Your Jobs (Pass the Chardonnay)

  1. Many of the jobs that are going to increase in numbers are jobs that require the creation of wealth to pay the employee. e.g. health
    Most of the jobs that are going to decrease in numbers are jobs that create wealth.
    Eventually it won’t work. Something therefore will have to change.


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