Lost Momentum: Newly Released Data Shows the Rapid Tourism Job Growth COVID Interrupted

New information from the Tourism Human Resource Module (THRM) will soon be available on Tourism HR Canada’s website.

The Tourism Human Resource Module is commissioned by Tourism HR Canada and produced by Statistics Canada. It provides statistics for the entire sector and each of its five industry groups from the years 2007 to 2019. Data can also be requested for 1997 to 2006, or accessed through Statistics Canada.

Tourism Greatly Outpaced Overall Economy Pre-Pandemic

Prior to the pandemic, the number of full-year jobs in tourism had grown by 26.7%. Over the same period, the total number of full-year jobs in the Canadian economy grew 14.1%

Within tourism industries, jobs grew the fastest in the food and beverage services industry group (37.8%) and transportation industry group (37.8%).

The number of employee jobs[1] within tourism grew significantly faster than the number of self-employed workers in tourism. Employee jobs grew 28.4%, while the number of self-employed jobs grew 9.7%.

Growth in part-time jobs outpaced growth in full-time jobs. The number of part-time jobs grew 36.5% from 2007 to 2019, while full-time jobs grew 20.3%. At the start of the time period, part-time jobs made up 39.7% of all full-year tourism jobs. By 2019, they made up 42.7% of all full-year tourism jobs. This shift is largely driven by the growth of the food and beverage services industry. Over half of all jobs in that industry are part-time and the number of food and beverage service jobs within tourism grew from 52.6% in 2007 to 57.2% in 2019.

Among the provinces, tourism jobs grew the fastest in Alberta, where they rose 48.6% from 171,903 full-year jobs in 2007 to 255,450 jobs in 2019. Among all regions of Canada, tourism jobs grew the most in the territory of Nunavut, more than doubling between 2007 and 2019.

Figure 1: Number of Jobs by Year and Class of Worker

Employee Jobs by Age Group

The tourism sector provides young workers with a large amount of their employment. A general population survey conducted by Tourism HR Canada in 2019 found that 28% of Canadians found their first job within one of the five industry groups within tourism. The THRM shows that in 2019, 34.1% of full-year jobs within tourism were held by workers aged 15 to 24. The fact that tourism was the industry hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic is one reason the subsequent recession hit young workers so hard.

That said, up until then, the share of Canada’s population that was aged 15 to 24 was actually declining. This was because millennials, a large demographic group, were aging out of the 15 to 24 age category. As of 2019 the youngest millennials—generally considered those born in 1996—were 23. Gen Z that follows is a smaller demographic cohort.

This can be seen in the THRM data on employee job growth by age category. While young people still fill a large share of tourism jobs, that share has declined since 2007. The number of full-year tourism jobs held by 15- to 24-year-olds grew 13.7% from 2007 to 2019, but their share of total tourism jobs declined from 38.5% to 34.1%. At the same time, the number of tourism jobs held by 35- to 44-year-olds grew 56.3% and the share of tourism jobs held by this age group increased from 17.9% of employee tourism jobs to 21.8%.

Figure 2: Employee Jobs by year and Age Group

Employee Jobs by Immigration Status and Gender

Immigrants have come to hold an increasing share of jobs within the tourism sector. In 2007, 309,120 full-year jobs in tourism were held by immigrants. By 2019, that number had grown to 482,857 tourism jobs, an increase of 56.2%. Immigrants also increased the share of tourism jobs they held from 22.7% in 2007 to 27.6% in 2019.

By industry group, the number of immigrant-held jobs grew the fastest in accommodation, increasing 157.3%. The share of jobs held by immigrants grew from 24.6% of accommodation jobs in 2007 to 34.8% in 2019.

Women hold a higher share of jobs in the tourism sector than men. As of 2019, 53.6% of tourism jobs were held by women. But there has actually been a slight decrease in the share of jobs held by women. Although the number of tourism jobs held by women has grown 25.9%, the number of tourism jobs held by men has grown faster. This resulted in the share of tourism jobs held by women decreasing from 54.6% in 2007 to 53.6% in 2019.

Looking at the industry groups in 2019, women held 70.1% of jobs within travel services, followed by 59.1% of jobs in accommodation and a majority of food and beverage services jobs (57.5%). Men held slightly over half of the jobs in the recreation and entertainment industry and 67.3% of transportation jobs.

Figure 3: Employee Jobs by Immigration Status and Gender

[1] Employee jobs are defined as all jobs in which the person draws compensation for services rendered. Jobs in which workers are paid by tips or commissions are included. Self-employed proprietors of unincorporated enterprises and unpaid family workers are not included.