Toronto’s Labour Market One of Few Bright Spots   

22 December 2023

JobsTO Labour Lowdown.  November 2023

Across Canada, labour market conditions weakened in November with unemployment rates increasing and layoffs on the rise compared with a year ago.  The softer job market conditions come as high interest rates weigh on economic growth and a ballooning population adds to the number of people looking for work.  Toronto bucked the national trend with our unemployment rate actually declining from 6.5% to 6.3%.  

Median wages across Toronto continued to demonstrate impressive gains, albeit in a high inflationary period.  Over the past 12 months, the median wage has increased from $34.33 to $37.68 (+9.75%). 

Job posting data for November saw a minor increase when compared to the previous month. Both the total number of active job posts and number of companies looking for workers increased by approximately 5%. 

Job post gains were most notable in retail, hospitality and the business service sector.  Small declines were seen in both the health care sector and the science and technical sector.   

Job Vacancy Rate:  Further indication that worker shortages are easing can be derived from Statistics Canada job vacancy data.  Toronto’s job vacancy rate declined to 3.4% from the historic high of 5.3% towards the end of the pandemic.  Toronto’s vacancy rate decline parallels that of Ontario.

Self-employment.  Toronto’s self-employed rate continues to recover from historical lows of late 2022 and early 2023.  Self-employment is a driver of labour-market activity and strongly correlates with employment growth.   The increase in Toronto’s self-employment rate coincides with the Statistics Canada publication “Self-employment among women in Canada.”  The report documents the growing share of women are among the ranks of the self-employed. In 2022, women represented 37% of all Canadians who worked independently to operate a business or professional activities or who were unpaid family workers. This was up from 26% more than four decades earlier, however employed women remain less likely than men to be self-employed; in 2022, 11% of employed women were their “own boss,” compared with 16% of employed men.

Spotlight on Retail

As noted earlier in this Labour Lowdown, Toronto’s Retail Sector continues to show impressive job gains.  Toronto’s retail sector is the most vibrant in Canada.  Of Ontario’s 850,000 retail workers, almost half (48%) call Toronto home. 

Aside from traditional bricks and mortar stores, the sector also includes internet retail, direct selling, and mail-order retail. In addition to selling merchandise, many Toronto retailers are also engaged in the provision of after-sales services, such as repair and installation. For example, new automobile dealers, electronic and appliance retailers and musical instrument and supplies retailers often provide repair services, while floor covering stores and window treatment retailers often provide installation services.

Careers in retail, while often associated with part-time work and lower pay, can provide long-term employment and career opportunities with positive wage trajectories.  While forecasts for retail employment are notoriously volitile, labour demand and labour supply are expected to be steady in Toronto for retail over the next ten year period.  Indeed, over the last 12 months, the retail sector has been constantly hiring.

Over the past 12 months, retail salespersons, managers, and shelf stockers have consistently been in the Top 10 of occupations being advertised in Toronto over the past 12 months. 

As noted earlier, the retail is an exceptionally diverse sector.  Ranging from online sales technology to repair and service of goods.  Job postings by sub-sector in Toronto indicate significant and ongoing demand for workers in supermarkets, electronic goods and furniture. 

While over half of all job postings in the retail sector do not formally list educational requirements, of those that do, the vast majority require a post secondary degree or diploma.

Most retail job postings do ask for experenice.  The vast maority ask for at least 1 to 5 years of retail experience.

A final observation of the retail sector is the high preportion of advertised jobs that ask for a second language.  More so than virtually any other sector, having a second language can be a real asset.

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 One of Few Bright Spots   

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