Retail clerk is one of the most common jobs in Canada according to new data from the 2011 National Household Survey released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.
It is also one of the lowest paid and unstable ways to make a living, say economists who have been sounding the alarm about the social and economic impact of the rise in so-called “precarious employment.”
“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.
“Today’s results are a real comment on the impact of the (2008 recession), said Armine Yalnizyan of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“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,” she said in an interview.
“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,” she added.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor