Skilled trades continue to pay more
By Anthony Capkun
More than one million people worked in skilled trades in 2007, reports StatsCan, where employment growth has been a steady 2.2% a year on average since the recession of the early 1990s. This group includes trades where a licence or certificate may be a condition of employment.
1987, Alberta accounted for 9% of all trades employment; by 2007, this
proportion had increased to 15%. During the same period, the proportion
for British Columbia rose from 11% to 15%.
contrast, Ontario accounted for 36% of trades employment in 2007, down
from 41% in 1987, primarily because of slower employment growth.
hourly earnings in 2007 were higher in the trades ($22.36) than in
other occupations ($21.02) combined, reflecting—in part—the
predominance of full-time jobs and the relatively high rate of
unionization in the skilled trades. The highest earners were
electricians, crane operators and plumbers.
1997 and 2007, employees in the trades saw a 3.5% increase in their
average constant dollar hourly earnings, half the 7.4% increase for
those outside the trades.
is a growing phenomenon among tradespeople. In 1987, 9% of those
employed in the trades were self-employed; by 2007, this had increased
to 15%. Some trades experienced even higher growth rates, although
their self-employment rates had not caught up to the non-trades.
aging of the population has led to general concerns about the
replacement of retiring workers. The ratio of entrants (age 25 to 34)
to near-retirees (50 or older) addresses the issue of demographic
balance, and shows that the skilled trades had a higher ratio in 2007
than those in other occupations combined (1.0 versus 0.7). This ratio
varied among the trades, though, with some having a higher ratio of
younger workers (plumbers and masons at about 1.5).
17% of workers in the trades were immigrants, lower than the 21% in the
non-trades occupations combined. None of the trades had a higher
proportion of immigrants than the non-trades. In 2007, 10% of plumbers
were immigrants, the lowest proportion.