Toronto’s Labour Market Faces Headwinds

21 November 2023

JobsTO Labour Lowdown.  October 2023

Toronto’s unemployment rate rose to 6.6 per cent last month as job opportunities became somewhat less scarce in an economy being weighed down by high interest rates and uncertainty.  The employment and participation rates declined to their lowest levels since the pandemic ended.  Canada as a whole only added 18,000 jobs in October.  Wages continued to grow quickly, but the pace slowed last month compared to September, with average hourly wages up 4.8 per cent to $34.08 from a year ago.  The Bank of Canada opted to hold its key interest rate steady at five per cent during its last two decision meetings, largely due to growing evidence that the economy is feeling the impact of higher rates.

There is, however, some promising news that can be gleaned from recent job posting data.  Both the number of job postings and employers hiring increased slightly from September.  This was the first increase in postings since the early spring of 2023. 

On a year over year basis, occupations related to business, finance and administration increased by over 50,000 workers.  Modest gains were also seen in natural and applied sciences, and in health-related occupations.  Occupations in sales and service, trades, and manufacturing all slightly declined over the past twelve months. 

October job posting data indicates that the hardest to fill occupations are in both the retail and hospitality sectors, echoing the data from the previous six months. 

Spotlight on Health Care

The health care sector in Toronto comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing health care by diagnosis and treatment, providing residential care for medical and social reasons, and providing social assistance, such as counselling, welfare, child protection, community housing and food services, vocational rehabilitation and child care, to those requiring such assistance.  Toronto is home to several world-renowned healthcare and medical research facilities. The health care and social assistance sector has been growing steadily over the past five years, with employment numbers reaching over 240,000 in 2023. As Canada’s population grows older, employment in the healthcare sector is likely going to continue to grow.

As Toronto’s population ages, the healthcare and social assistance sector is aging as well, with 41 percent of workers aged 45-64. The aging population that makes up a significant portion of the healthcare sector could lead to gaps in employment. However, the sector provides decent wages that increase with educational attainment. This could be enticing for individuals looking to work in an industry that is set to grow.  Indeed, population aging is likely to be the biggest factor affecting Toronto and Ontario’s economy in the next decade.

Other news:

Bad Boy Restructures:  Bad Boy Furniture Warehouse, an iconic Toronto retailer is restructuring  its business through a filing made under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.  The  furniture company says in Ontario court filings that the move has become necessary because Bad Boy is operating in a “challenging” economic environment.

Condo Construction Decline:  According to the latest condo market survey results from Urbanation  reports, 40 condo projects — totalling 13,721 units — expected to be available this year have been delayed.  “Elevated interest rates and heightened market uncertainty continues to grip the new condominium sector in the GTA,” Shaun Hildebrand, president of Urbanation, said in a news release.  The 9,568 units sold so far in 2023, marks the lowest level in 10 years — down 47% from the same period in 2022.

Wages and Job Posts:  The Ontario government will soon introduce legislation that, if passed, would require employers to include expected salary ranges in job postings, giving workers more information to make informed decisions in their career search. In addition, the legislation would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to require businesses to disclose if artificial intelligence (AI) is used during their hiring process.

For more information, please see our Jobs TO Data.


  • TWIG

    Toronto Workforce Innovation Group is a non-profit and independent research organization devoted to finding and promoting solutions to employment-related problems in the Toronto Region.

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Toronto’s Labour Market Faces Headwinds

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