Canada’s red-hot retail industry employed more people than the beleaguered manufacturing sector for the first time last year, according to Statistics Canada.

Canada’s retailers employed nearly 1.79 million people last year to become the country’s largest employer, knocking manufacturing out of first place by a slim 5,000-job margin.

Canadian retailers are enjoying strong profit margins due to a stronger dollar, cheap Asian imports and an “effervescent job market,” economists at National Bank Financial noted yesterday.


But most laid-off factory workers see a job in retail sales “as a last resort” because of the low pay and long hours, said Dave Parker at the United Steelworkers job action centre in Toronto.

The average retail job paid $14.87 per hour last year, roughly a third less than the average $21.66 an hour manufacturing job, according to Statistics Canada’s latest monthly payroll data.

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