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2009 Not First Time Women Outnumbered Men In Paid Employment: StatsCan

A claim that the first half of 2009 marked the first time in Canada’s history the number of employed women outnumbered employed men was incorrect, Statistics Canada has confirmed.

Asked about the milestone after the claim was questioned, the agency said Friday there were in fact two previous periods – February-April 2007 and January-April 2008 – when employed females slightly outnumbered their male counterparts.

The agency, however, said the gap during the first half of this year was significantly more pronounced than in the earlier periods.

The 2009 figures can also be considered notable in that they are averaged over a longer period than on the previous occasions, said Ted Wannell, an assistant director with StatsCan.

Wannell noted that women’s paid employment hit an all-time high in March at almost 51 per cent – about 233,000 more women than men.

That translates roughly to 3.2 per cent more than women in the paid workforce than men, compared with a female advantage in the order of 0.5 and 1.2 per cent at its peak in 2007 and 2008, Wannell said.

Wannell also said the earlier milestone numbers showing women had slipped into the majority among salary and wage earners went “under the radar” until recently.

A monthly average of just over 7.1 million women were in paid employment during the first half of 2009, compared to just under seven million men, according to Statistics Canada data.

Women outnumbered men in both the “under 25 years” and the “25 years and over” demographics.

A Canadian Auto Workers’ release on Sept. 5 and a Canadian Press story prompted by it correctly stated the figures as showing paid women employees were in the majority during the first six months of 2009, but mistakenly called it a first for the country. That claim was not made by Statistics Canada. itself in any release.

Some women labour activists said the numerical superiority of females in paid employment had a “dark side” because it did not reflect gains in female-dominated industries, but rather was the result of layoffs and cutbacks in male-dominated industries, such as the beleaguered manufacturing and natural resources sectors.

In the past year, employment among women has risen by 0.6 per cent, while men’s employment has fallen by 1.7 per cent in the same period, according to Statistics Canada.

Nevertheless, the latest figures for July and August show employed men again outnumbered women but it remains unclear what the long term trends might be.

In addition, StatsCan has yet to adjust the employment numbers for seasonal and other factors.