Steel Shutdown: where are Hamilton's jobs?

It's Work Week at CBC Hamilton. Today, we take a look at the most prevalent jobs in Hamilton, where the vacancies are and what industries are begging for skilled workers.

What occupations are in demand and what sectors are hiring?

Job postings by occupation (Workforce Planning Hamilton)

In light of the last week’s news of U.S. Steel shutting down its Hamilton steel manufacturing operation, its Work Week at CBC Hamilton. We are taking a look at jobs in Hamilton: where they have gone, what remains, and which industries are desperate for employees. 


Here are the top three categories


MANUFACTURING  (food, machinery and primary metal)

HEALTH CARE (nursing and in-home care)

Source: Workforce Planning Hamilton

Looking for work in Hamilton? Between July to September of this year, there were 6,742 unique job vacancies in Hamilton posted online. That’s according to Workforce Planning Hamilton’s latest report on worker demand in the city. That's about 640 more than the previous quarter. 

That’s over 2,000 jobs per month, at least in the past six months, and that is just a small snapshot of available jobs in Hamilton, said Judy Travis, executive director of Workforce Planning Hamilton.

From their latest online job vacancy report, retail, manufacturing (food, machinery and primary metal) and health care (nursing and in-home care) were the industries with the most available jobs. About 53 per cent of those positions are full-time.

So, what kind of jobs are they? They're jobs at either end of the market.

“It’s a two-tier system,” Travis said. “There are lots of jobs at the low level and lots of jobs at the high level."

What is steadily increasing is the number of jobs requiring skills and a specified level of education, often higher than a high school diploma, she said. 

53 per cent of online jobs posted are full time.

Most of the current vacant positions, Travis said, are ones with a high-turn over rate, like a salesperson, a food counter attendant or truck driver.

These she said, are often the jobs people without skills get stuck in. A laid-off labour worker from the steel mills could be one of those people.

“Depending on how long they worked their job, they might not even have computer skills,” she said. “There aren’t that many jobs that don’t require those skills.”

Wage is another issue. A former labour worker might end up in the retail trade, Travis said, and “earn half of what they made a U.S. Steel.”

But if a former steel worker with a trade skill went job seeking, this person would have no problem finding work, she said.

Skills and trades in demand

That’s what Mohawk College graduates from trade skills are finding as well. Brad MacDonald is the coordinator for the college’s building and renovation program. He said he has a better than 100 per cent employment rate for his students.

“This year, I had employers calling me up after the main hiring season,” MacDonald said.  “There seems to be still a demand.”

MacDonald said the case is the same for graduates in the college’s architectural and civil engineering programs. And most of these jobs are in the Hamilton area.

“We may not be making steel in town, but there is a demand for the trades,” he said.

Hamilton's most prevalent occupations (from Workforce Planning Hamilton)

OccupationLabour force in HamiltonMedian annual income
Retail salesperson11,440$13,416
Food counter attendant6,770$8,305
Elementary school and kindergarten teachers5, 670$61,103
Retail and wholesale trade managers5,395$39,390
Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses5,200$62,493
Transport truck drivers4,225$38,667
Administrative assistants3,990$34,562
Janitors, caretakers and building superintendents3,855$28,794
Administrative officers

The annual income to satisfy Hamilton's living wage is $29,153.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.