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Employment Transitions in Canadian Metropolitan Areas

This report examines job loses and gains across Canadian metropolitan areas during the 21st century.

Currently, and despite the significant attention that has been paid to Canada’s loss of manufacturing jobs at a general level, little is known about how individual Canadian regions have fared since the manufacturing employment decline of 2004-09, caused by a combination of increased overseas competition, a rising Canadian dollar, and the 2008-09 “Great Recession”. For many areas, it remains unclear whether old manufacturing jobs have been replaced by comparable jobs (in terms of skill level and pay), or different jobs, which would mark a permanent shift in the nature of employment. In other words, for many regions it is unclear whether economic recovery has been accompanied by fundamental shifts in employment.

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This report sheds light on these uncertainties by drawing on employment data, with a focus at the census metropolitan area (CMA) level, to examine the effects of manufacturing employment decline in each community. By examining community level impacts, we can develop an understanding of why some parts of Canada were able to manage the transition more successfully than others. This can then help with the development of policies to aid in future employment transitions, whether they be caused by automation, globalization or decarbonisation. By being able to better predict the effects of those transitions, we can ensure Canadians have the skills needed for future employment opportunities and communities are better able to manage those transitions.

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