Retail nowhere near the top of the list for Canadians seeking work

People have historically found their careers move through different paths and sectors. But during COVID the movement between industries has never seemed so profound. Unfortunately, the number of people who choose to migrate to a career in retail—or even just apply for a job there—are up only slightly.

A new study by CBC shows that Canadians are moving between careers at a great rate. And no wonder: it’s a buyers’ market out there. Last month’s unemployment rate, at just 4.9 percent, was the lowest it’s been in more than 50 years. While retail is seeing a slight increase in workers, other sectors are attracting people in the double digits as people leave service industries such as restaurants, cleaning, and hospitality in general.

The study, based on StatCan employment records, indicates that professional, technical, and scientific services have seen a 19.5 percent jump in workers. Finance, insurance, and real estate are up collectively by almost 15 percent. The construction industry has seen a 6.5 percent increase in its workforce.

The study also examined salaries, comparing wage rates from the first quarter of 2019 to Q1 2022. Employment levels in wholesale and retail trade were up slightly at four percent, even though wages in this sector have grown 12 percent during COVID. Manufacturing was up only 0.7 percent, even as wages grew by six percent.

The sectors suffering the biggest drain include hospitality and food services, down 14.2 percent, and agriculture, down 10.7 percent.