Communities further from major cities have struggled to replace lost jobs

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A national study of the manufacturing sector between 2003 and 2018 reveals how painful restructuring of the sector has been with the loss of around 532,000 jobs.


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While job losses have been fairly evenly distributed across manufacturing centers across Canada, the recovery has not been as fair.

Southwestern Ontario was particularly hard hit, with Windsor losing 8,600 jobs and London losing 10,000, with most of these manufacturing positions not returning during the study period.

“What’s different is a community’s ability to recover,” said study author Mike Moffatt, senior director of policy and innovation at the Smart Prosperity Institute and assistant professor of commerce at Western University.

It’s like we’re out of the boom-bust cycle

“The closer you were to a large city like Toronto and Montreal, the better able the community was to create jobs in related industries that those who normally migrated to manufacturing could transition to.


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“The three major industries for this job creation were construction, trucking and warehousing.”

Patrick Thompson, head of business development at Ettractive, is pictured with two old Jeeps being turned into electric and autonomous vehicles on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Patrick Thompson, head of business development at Ettractive, is pictured with two old Jeeps being turned into electric and autonomous vehicles on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

According to the study, job losses in the manufacturing sector began between 2003 and 2008 with 350,000 jobs falling victim to the rise in cheap production in China, Mexico and the southern United States and a high Canadian dollar. The Great Recession of 2008-09 claimed another 182,000 jobs.

“The difference was before the Great Recession, the job losses were more due to attrition,” Moffatt said. “During the Great Recession, it was about layoffs and plant closures.”

For “isolated manufacturing communities”, which are defined as being more than 120 kilometers from a major city, it has been difficult to recapture these manufacturing jobs. There was also a failure to generate construction, transportation and warehousing jobs to replace them in cities like Windsor and London until after 2018.


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In contrast, communities like Barrie created 2.86 jobs in these sectors for every manufacturing job lost, while Windsor produced 0.27 and London 0.53.

Workers under 45 with no post-secondary education and women feel the most pain.

Patrick Thompson, head of business development at Ettractive, is pictured with two old Jeeps being turned into electric and autonomous vehicles on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Patrick Thompson, head of business development at Ettractive, is pictured with two old Jeeps being turned into electric and autonomous vehicles on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

These two groups remain marked by the Great Recession, which failed to return to the employment participation rates (67 percent for men and 59 percent for women) they enjoyed before 2009. The rates in 2018 were 62 percent for men and 55 percent. for women.

“One of the big unexpected discoveries was how disproportionate the impact was on women,” Moffatt said.

“Manufacturing is considered a male dominated industry, but there have been huge job losses in the manufacturing of clothing, footwear and clothing.”


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Between 2003 and 2008, the cutting and sewing industries, heavily populated by women, lost 43,400 jobs.

During the same period, there were a loss of 39,700 jobs in the auto parts industry and 24,600 jobs in auto manufacturing.

The reality for cities like Windsor and London were periods of high unemployment rates and stagnant wages.

In 2018, London had seen its employment rate drop 5.5 percent to give the region the second-lowest rate (77 percent) in Canada among people aged 25 to 54. Windsor’s 80 percent rate, an increase of 1.4 percent, was on 12e among the 65 centers included in the study.

In 2003, the average weekly income for people aged 25 to 54 in Windsor was $ 830, that in London was $ 770, while the national average was $ 740. In 2018, Windsor’s salary had increased 27.7 percent to $ 1,060, London’s increased 31.2 percent to $ 1,010, and the national average increased 47.3 percent to $ 1,010. reach $ 1,090.


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Inflation over the same period was 29.7 percent.

Moffatt said the shock to the manufacturing sector has caused Canadian companies to adopt more technology and automation to improve their ability to compete with low-cost countries.

This resulted in stagnation in employment growth in the sector, but the increase in productivity ushered in a period of employment stability. Between 2009 and 2018, there was a decline of 18,100 manufacturing jobs in Canada.

“We’ve never seen a 10-year period where the number of jobs hasn’t changed much,” Moffatt said. “We have the impression that we are out of the boom-bust cycle. “

After hitting a low in July 2009, when there were just 24,000 local workers employed in manufacturing, representing 16.6% of Windsor’s workforce, the region rebounded after 2018.


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Before the global microchip shortage began to impact the industry, local employment levels in manufacturing had risen to around 40,000, representing 26% of the workforce. However, these figures remain well below the 46,000 manufacturing jobs in the region in March 2006.

Figures last month had 33,200 people in manufacturing, representing 20 percent of the overall local workforce.

“I am optimistic when microchip supply returns we will have good and strong growth in manufacturing,” said Justin Falconer, CEO of Workforce WindsorEssex.

“Over the past three months, there has been an incredible demand from employers for hiring.

“Once manufacturing is back online it will get more difficult because I think they will gobble up people with better wages and benefits. A lot of people will move on to manufacturing.


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Falconer joins more than 350 automation companies and more than 1,000 manufacturing companies, the region is well positioned to participate in the expansion of the automobile and to enter new markets such as agriculture.

“I am optimistic about the future of manufacturing in Windsor,” said Patrick Troy, co-founder of electric and autonomous vehicle hardware and software development company Ettractive.

“The next step is to integrate the technology into our process. We are at a crossroads and we need to invest in technology.

Ettractive will be part of the new generation of local businesses doing just that.

  1. The region saw a loss of 2,500 jobs in June, mainly in the manufacturing sector

  2. Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, makes a funding announcement for the Precision Stamping Group on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

    Ontario government supports area auto and manufacturing companies

  3. Jonathon Azzopardi, president of Laval International, is shown at his company's Tecumseh plant in this January 11, 2018 file photo.

    Federal government to announce $ 7 million in funding for local auto manufacturers

The company has been selected as a partner by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association to oversee the integration of all components of the all-Canadian zero-emission Project Arrow vehicle.

“We (Windsor) are taking the right steps,” said Troy, who is looking to recruit electrical, mechanical and product design engineers over the next two weeks.

“We have some pretty forward thinking companies that will come into play here in Windsor over the next two years. They will support the mobility ecosystem here.

“It’s about nurturing these businesses. Create a welcoming business environment and make sure we have enough talent.


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