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Labour Market Insights: In-demand occupations in health care and Ontario’s labour market trends for December 2021

Commentary

As we move beyond the end-of-year holiday hiring spree, job postings are down and employment is up. How much of these numbers can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing influence on employment and the workforce? How do we compare at the start of 2022 relative to where we were prior to the pandemic? 

This month’s Labour Markets Insights attempts to shed some light on these questions. Our analysis is focused on where in-demand jobs and the employment numbers intersect. This analysis draws from Workforce WindsorEssex’s unique data source which covers job postings from across the province (excluding the City of Toronto and the far northeastern region).

The 10 most in-demand occupations in December 2021 compared to the previous month were as follows:

Graphic credit: Janice Nelson.

The top-10 in-demand occupations constituted just under one-third of all job postings (49,989 job postings or 30.7 percent) in the regions. The number of active job postings decreased by 19,415 in December relative to November for a total of 162,852, compared to 182,267 active job postings in November. This was a decrease of 10.7 percent across the regions between the two final months of 2021.

The occupational field of Home Support Workers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations appears higher on December’s list, although it saw just a one percent increase in postings from 4,421 total active job postings in November to 4,461 in December. Home Support Workers provide personal care and companionship for seniors, persons with disabilities, and convalescent clients and are employed by home care and support agencies, private households, or they may be self-employed.

Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses jumped from the 12th-most in-demand occupation for November with 2,709 total active job postings to the 9th in December with 3,251 total active job postings. This amounted to a 20-percent increase month-over-month for these positions. This occupation provides direct nursing care to patients, delivers health education programs, and provides consultative services regarding issues relevant to the practice of nursing.

Increases in job postings in these occupational fields can likely be attributed to an increase in the need for more staffing as COVID-19 cases grew in hospitals as well as to cover vacancies from staff unable to go into work due to contracting COVID-19.

Both Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers and Related Support Occupations and Cooks saw a decrease in job postings in December relative to November (with decreases of 17.6 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively). The decrease in job postings here is likely a result of the Ontario government reinstating some public health measures on December 18. These restrictions included limiting restaurants and bars to 50 percent capacity.

Looking at Statistics Canada’s employment data for the whole of Ontario, the province is now above pre-pandemic employment numbers, with 7.6 million Ontarians employed in total in December 2021. This is up 5.1 percent from 7.2 million in December 2020 when the province was in lockdown, but also up 2 percent from 7.5 million in December 2019 and up 5.2 percent from 7.2 million in December 2018.

The top-10 companies hiring in December 2021 compared to the previous month were as follows:

Graphic credit: Janice Nelson.

As noted in last month’s Labour Market Insights, we did see a drop in job postings across Ontario during the month of December, largely because the holiday shopping season concluded and employers typically hold off on the recruitment process for any open positions until after the new year begins. We do see some companies in the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector in the top-10 hiring companies have increased hiring, while some have decreased. Employment in the sector province-wide, however, is above pre-pandemic levels, with 1,147,000 employed in the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector in December 2021. This is up 8.9 percent from 1,053,000 in December 2020, up 4.9 percent from 1,093,500 in December 2019, and up 7.4 percent from 1,068,400 in December 2018.

For more information about Workforce WindsorEssex and their valuable LMI, please visit workforcewindsoressex.com.

Howard Anglin: The great epics endure in our small, local lives

Commentary

Taking an early train from Oxford to London last month, I settled into my seat and gratefully rested my eyes. If I slept, it wasn’t for long and I opened my eyes again just in time to see a small village slip by, a cluster of houses and the square tower of a Norman church. I consulted my phone and saw the name Cholsey receding from the blue dot that tracked my train’s progress across the map.

What had happened in Cholsey, I wondered, entering the name into the search engine.

The Domesday book records 22 villagers, 100 cottagers, and 15 slaves in the year 1086. Before that, it was an Anglo-Saxon settlement owned by the royal House of Wessex, a Viking raiding camp, and a Roman town with a substantial villa, barns, and a burial ground. There is evidence of an earlier Bronze Age settlement. Three millennia in three paragraphs.

Secondary sources filled in some rough details.

We don’t know much about Saint Wilgyth, but she was venerated locally from the 6th century, around the time the settlement, then an island in the Thames marshes, was called “Ceol’s Isle” after the usurper King Ceol. In the 10th century, a royal nunnery was founded as expiation for the murder of another King, Edward the Martyr. The church I saw from the train mostly dates to the 12th century but bears traces of Saxon masonry. In the 13th century the village tithe barn was the largest aisled building in the world, more than 50 feet high and 300 feet long. In 2011, the Victorian County Lunatic Asylum, once grim home to 1,000 souls, was converted to apartments.

The village has an outsize literary presence. Agatha Christie, still the best-selling fiction writer in history, is buried in the church graveyard, and future Poet Laureate John Masefield lived on a local farm during the first world war. The century before that is captured in an entertaining book titled Crime and Calamity in Cholsey: Life in a Berkshire Village 1819-1919, which chronicles four generations of theft, murder, infanticide, sudden death, riots, slander, debt, exile, marriage, adultery, bastardy, suicide, insanity, war, and heroism within the parish. I read it in an evening.

There was the Victorian curate, a godson of the King of Prussia, who fought at Tel-El-Kebir, seduced a local school mistress, and ran up extravagant gambling debts before abandoning his family and fleeing to South America; the four Ilsey brothers, all criminals, three of whom ended their lives more or less respectably in Australia; violent clashes between labourers and landowners after the Enclosure Acts put up literal walls between the classes; and the conscientious objector who went to prison for his principles, relented, and died of dysentery in Dar-es-Salaam. The reformed “conchie” is one of 41 Cholsey men whose death is commemorated on the village Roll of Honour for the Great War, out of 376 military-aged men in the village. His posthumous medals were delivered by post to his mother’s house along with a bronze plaque solemnly recording that he had died shitting himself in a distant port “for Freedom and Honour.”

What had happened in Cholsey? Everything. The cycle of life, death, and rebirth, revolving through seasons, years, and generations since before written history.

In the poem Epic, Patrick Kavanagh writes, with self-conscious irony:

I have lived in important places, times

When great events were decided, who owned

That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land

Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.

Raised in rural County Monaghan, the young Kavanagh wore his rusticity uncomfortably in the literary circles of London and Dublin, and the speaker of Epic is reluctant to compare a row between the Duffys and the Macabes to Neville Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler (“the Munich bother”) until Homer’s ghost reminds him that the human tragicomedy is enacted by farmers as well as statesmen. “I made the Iliad from such / A local row,” says the ghost.

“I made the Iliad from such / A local row.”

It is one of those lines that knocked me sideways the first time I read it. To see the universal in the local and the local in the universal requires just a subtle shift in perspective. To see them simultaneously is the gift of art.

Epic stories are timeless because they never end. A feud over the boundary of a field can be freighted with the gravity of mythology. There is a Helen at every county fair, and always a hapless Paris at her heels. The models for Achilles, Ajax, Hector, and Priam were local men: proud, petty, brash, and noble, no different than the men at the same time on the future site of Cholsey. According to the excavations at Hisarlik, the “topless towers of Ilium” were 30 feet high. They would have been overshadowed by Cholsey’s medieval tithe barn.

All human settlements are hero-haunted. Flying back from London to Vancouver for Christmas, the flightpath entered Canada over Baffin Island, site of sagas told in Viking halls, and ended beside an ocean where, long before the arrival of Europeans, local nations told their own legends around longhouse fires.

An hour or so before landing, I looked out the window at the Canadian prairies. The snow below was smooth, like white glue spilled over the fields on which a skin had begun to set. Straight roads cut thin lines across the white, and where two roads crossed, there was a town. I was not able to look it up this time, but if I had, I have no doubt I would have found the same people I found in Cholsey, both long and recently departed, already transmuting into legend in local memory.

We recently passed through the dead of winter, solsitio brumali, and in the turning of the year, as we move from darkness back into light, we know that this has all happened before. Our lives are stories that were told around campfires in Ur. Plague, fire, floods, and tyranny: they are the setting of our oldest tales. Tales of destruction and of renewal, of despair in this world and hope beyond it. The epic quarrel is re-engaged over suburban fences, and the epic hero is reborn in every child, here as in Cholsey or Troy.