Statscan reports that, when it comes to employment in Canada, the future is in retailing.We no longer make things. We sell things that other people make. According to The Toronto Star:
“Retail salesperson” was ranked as the most common occupation for both women (4.7 per cent) and men (3.3 per cent), according to the survey.
The retail sector boasted 1.9 million workers, representing 11.5 per cent of the country’s workforce, overtaking manufacturing as the largest field of employment for Canadians.
Manufacturing, which in 2006 employed 11.8 per cent of Canadian workers, dropped to third place at 9.2 per cent. Health care and social assistance sectors now run a close second to retail at 11.4 per cent, according to the survey.
Unfortunately, retailing provides the most precarious kind of employment. Armine Yalnizyan of The Centre for Policy Alternatives says:
“The more our economic recovery and growth is based on a sector known for its low wages and for ignoring pensions and benefits, the more fragile the recovery is,”
“To the extent that we are now largely reliant on one of the sectors that is most likely to treat workers as disposable, this is a cautionary note,”
And, as wages fall, Canadians go into debt to pay their bills:
Jonathan Hunter, 47, says he’s lucky he doesn’t have a family because he doesn’t know how he would support one on his retail wages.
“I make enough to live on, but I don’t have any kids,” said the shoe repair store clerk. “If I did, that would be a problem.”
Hunter, who has worked in retail for most of his life, says he hasn’t seen the dentist in years because benefits in his line of work are rare.
Jessica Clausen, 24, sells men’s shirts on Yonge St. for $10.25 an hour, but still clings to the hope of becoming a Broadway star. The drama school graduate has been working in retail for several years while she dabbles in community theatre and waits for her big break.
“My job title is actor, which means I work in retail,” she said, with a laugh.
A report on unstable work and household wellbeing released in February found that barely half of Toronto and Hamilton-area workers have permanent, full-time work with benefits. As a result, these workers experience increased household stress and limited ability to participate in their communities, said the report by McMaster University and United Way Toronto
“Retail is often a place-holder for university students who can’t find work in their field, but they often never escape because there is nothing to move on to,” said the report’s author Wayne Lewchuk, a labour and economics professor at McMaster University.
“For others who were turfed out of good jobs, it’s the only place they can go,” he said.
Jim Flaherty says that the reason Canadians on EI are being forced off the rolls is because there is no such thing as a bad job. You'd expect the man who has had a hand in building this brave new world to say that.