Transportation and Warehousing: Ontario 2016-2018


Jobs Bank released a report on Transportation and Warehousing industry and employment trends in Ontario, with a brief overview of other regions.

Transportation of goods and people are essential services that support all other industries, rising and falling with the pace of economic activity in other sectors. Within the transportation and warehousing, employment is largest in truck transportation, and transit and ground passenger transportation (which includes subways, light rail, taxi and limousine services, and buses). Transit and trucking combined make up roughly half of employment in Ontario’s overall transportation and warehousing sector. They also generate a large portion of industry output.

According to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, transportation and warehousing employment levels rose by 1.8% to 327,200 in 2016, after declining in 2014 and 2015. Employer payroll data suggest gains were concentrated in warehousing and storage, support activities for transportation, air transportation, and truck transportation as the industry benefitted from higher wholesale and retail figures, robust exports, and elevated airline profits.

Airline Employment Continuing Its Climb

Pursers and flight attendants, air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors, and airlines sales and service agents make up close to 60% of the workforce. Demand for air travel is expected to persist as airline passenger traffic is expected to double in southern Ontario over the next few decades, supporting employment growth in the near-term.

Truck Transportation On A Roll As US Economy Revs Up

The truck transportation sub-industry includes establishments mainly engaged in the truck transportation of goods. Truck drivers make up 65% of employment in this sub-sector. Material handlers, dispatchers and radio operators  and transportation managers are also significant occupations in the sector.

Trucking moves 77% of total freight tonnage in Ontario and provides both the most nimble mode of moving goods and the first- and last-mile delivery on which all other modes depend. The potential elimination of internal trade barriers between provinces would also be a boon to provincial trade and, by extension, transport trucking employment. Rising e-commerce sales may also stimulate some growth in international cargo volume as small businesses expand their international reach through the world-wide web.

Employment growth in urban transit overtaking other segments of ground passenger transportation

The transit and ground passenger transportation sub-industry mainly encompasses employment in urban transit systems, interurban and rural bus transportation, taxi and limousine services, school and employee bus transportation, and charter buses. Bus driver and subway and other transit operators  make up close to half of the workforce and taxi and limousine drivers and chauffeurs are another quarter.

Taxi and limousine services are facing strong competition from the sharing economy as emerging technologies to connect vehicles-for-hire with passengers eat into incumbents’ fares and profits. While government policy towards new companies such as Uber and Lyft is still taking shape, their lower costs and lower prices could increase small-vehicle transportation use in Ontario while mitigating demand for taxi and limousine services.

Government investment in transit and transportation, e.g. establishing Metrolinx in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, is a key influencer of transit use. Combined with growing urban density, large-scale transit projects in several urban centers in southern Ontario will likely support transit employment in the near-term.

Continuing uncertainty at Canada Post unlikely to deliver increased employment

In the mail and courier segments, ongoing technological shifts from physical letter and business mail to digital modes have been squeezing employment for several years.

As letter mail volumes have declined with the rise of electronic communication and e-billing, its national workforce fell by 12% between 2007 and 2015, mainly at the Canada Post Corporation. A saving grace for the Group may be increased parcel volume as e-commerce shipping increases due to growing online orders. While private sector growth may generate some jobs, particularly in parcel delivery, employment in the subsector is expected to remain relatively flat, or even see a slight decline, over 2016-2018.

Employment in warehousing and storage propelled stronger sales and rise in e-commerce

The warehousing and storage sub-industry is a small component of the overall transportation and warehousing sector, employing less than 10% of the workforce. Material handlers and shippers and receivers make up 49% of employment in warehousing and storage. Warehousing and storage saw steady growth in employment over 2012 to 2015 but contracted in 2016. But, helped along by the rise of e-commerce, the increased use of technology is likely to require more of workers, especially in computer skills and safety. The warehousing segment of the industry is expected to register moderate employment growth over 2016–2018.

Sub Provincial Trends

The Ottawa economic region employs close to 7% of Ontario’s transportation and warehousing workers and is expected to see above-average growth in 2016–2018.

At close to 50%, the Toronto economic region has the highest share of transportation and warehousing employment in the province. The region is expected to register average industrial employment growth over the three-year forecast period.

Close to 10% of the transportation and warehousing industry’s workforce is located in the Kitchener–Waterloo–Barrie economic region. The industry is expected to record the highest growth in employment over three years among all other regions.

Transportation and warehousing employment in the Hamilton–Niagara economic region comprises 9% of the provincial total. Industry employment growth is expected to be higher than average over 2016–2018.

The Northwest economic region has the smallest share of this industry’s workforce, but the highest concentration of workers compared to other economic regions.

Of the remaining economic regions Kingston–PembrokeLondon, and Windsor–Sarnia will see the slowest industry growth, but none are expected to register losses in 2016–2018. Muskoka–Kawarthas, the Northeast, and Stratford–Bruce Peninsula should experience largely average growth over that period.

Source: Jobs Bank

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