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Five things learned from Canada's National Household Survey

Between now and 2030, growth in Canada’s labour force is expected to slow from 1 per cent to 0.5 per cent a year.


Five things we learned from the results of the National Household Survey on labour and education, released Wednesday morning.

The retail nation

More Canadians work in retail than any other sector, with nearly 2 million workers of nearly 18 million total in the work force. For both men and women, the most common occupation was retail salesperson. For women, this is followed by administrative assistant; for men, transport truck driver. Health care and social assistance had the next largest employment share, with 1.8 million workers. The manufacturing sector had the third highest share of total employment, with 1.5 million workers.

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Women and education

Nearly two thirds of adult Canadians have some type of postsecondary education. And women accounted for more than half of those who hold university degrees. Younger women, aged 25 to 34, also accounted for more than 58 per cent of those with a master's degree. Young women also had a higher share of university degrees in science and technology, but men still hold the majority of degrees in these fields.

Who's studying science?

The 2011 survey puts a special emphasis on so-called STEM fields of study – which include science and technology, engineering and math and computer sciences. Men made up the majority of those with a degree in this field at the university level. Roughly half of all STEM degrees were held by immigrants. Overall, however, business management, marketing and related disciplines were the most common fields of study for both college and university graduates.

We drive to work

About 15 million Canadians commuted to work, according the survey -- and four out of five commuters drove a vehicle to get there. The highest proportion of public transit use is in cities; commuters living in Toronto and Montreal were most likely to take public transit to work at 23 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

The commute is long

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Canadians spent an average of 25.4 minutes travelling to work. Commuters travelled by public transit took longer to get to work, on average, than commuters in cars – 42 minutes compared to 23 minutes. But those averages don't reflect the experience of all commuters. For some people, travel times are much longer – 17 per cent of commuters took 45 minutes or more to get to work. Commuters who live in the areas surrounding Toronto, Oshawa and Barrie for example, were most likely to be in this group.

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