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CANADIAN JOB MARKET -- Mini update Jan Feb 2011

CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Jan Feb 2011

General Observations:

In January Canada had a net gain of 69,000 jobs, split equally between full time and part-time.  An increase in job seekers caused an increase in the unemployment rate from 7.6% last month to 7.8%.  Over the last year Canada has added 327,000 jobs.

The Canadian dollar continues to be very strong, remaining very close to parity with the US dollar with a value around the 99 cent mark. The TSX continues to perform strongly, up more than 700 points from 13,304 last month to 14,027 today.  Generally there appears to be more optimism with 88% of CEOs at the World Economic Forum expressing confidence for the next 12 months.  Overall Europe is performing quite well, driven primarily by Germany and France, but some European countries are still struggling.  The upheaval in Egypt appears to have been resolved for the better, which will again be good for the markets which dislike uncertainty.

For Eagle, January was a decent month that resulted in some growth however the way the holidays worked out the number of hours worked was down a little.  As the month progressed we saw a large increase in orders which suggests that 2011 will see a continuation of the recovery experienced in the latter half of 2010

More Specifically:

The GTA(Greater Toronto Area) is Eagle’s busiest market and other than a slow start to the year (vacations) it does NOT look like it is slowing down at all.  As we have seen for many months now, the banks are extremely busy however we are also seeing a growth in demand from the insurance sector too.  The other sector with big demand has been the telecommunications industry and that has not slowed down either.  As the economy has recovered we have seen a steady growth across all sectors and most are now getting to that “very busy” stage, the retail sector comes to mind, as does the integrator market which has been enjoying strong demand for its services.  The Ontario Provincial Government was not exceptionally busy, however there is talk of an election and typically the government is a little slow to get going in January.  Eagle has seen this increase in demand across ALL of its offerings, clients need contract help from technology resources, finance & accounting professionals AND executive consultants.  In addition there is a big increase in demand for full time resources too!

In Western Canada the price of a barrel of oil has meant that Calgary continues to be the biggest, most demanding market.  This leads to growth in demand from all of the related industries too, including the system integrators.  Conscious of the labour shortages during the last boom we are seeing an increased interest in outsourcing and offshoring among the big Calgary clients too.  Already we are seeing signs that skills shortages are close, with the best candidates getting “multiple job offers”, and clients who are slow to make the hiring decision losing those people.  With a change in political leadership expected in Alberta there is some caution in government spending so Edmonton is not as busy as it might have been otherwise.  The other Western cities are not experiencing a torrid start to 2011, so we will need to see how that unfolds.

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region was a little mixed this last month.  A slow Ottawa market could be a result of budget realignment, talk of an election or because the fiscal year end is on the horizon.  Montreal however continues to be busy, driven by the financial sector and telcos but we are also seeing media companies get a little more active.
The following are some facts/indicators we are watching as of time of writing:

> The price of oil is still “up there” at a little more than $85 a barrel, with a one year forecast of $98.
> The TSX jumped more than 700 point from last month’s reading of 13,304 to 14,027.
> The Canadian dollar continues to be strong and remains North of 99 cents US.
> Prime remains at 3% however there continues to be talk about when this will go up again!
> Canada added 69,000 jobs (327,000 in the last year) and the unemployment rate was up slightly to 7.8%.
> Eagle experienced growth again in January, in the number of candidates applying, in the number of orders received from clients and in closed business. Summary

The start of January was a slow period as people continued their vacations, took a little time to get “back in the groove” and plans were made for the New Year.  As the month progressed and heading into February we saw a big increase in activity as clients looked to fill their open positions and candidates picked up their hunt for work.  In Canada we added 69,000 jobs and the unemployment rate is at 7.8% … not bad compared to 9.8% in the US and 9.6% in the EU.  The Canadian dollar is strong, which helps some sectors and hurts others … but is generally a sign of a healthy economy.

Across Canada the two big markets, with the most demand are Toronto and Calgary.  These are also the two cities with the most head offices, so this makes sense.  Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and the South West Ontario area are building in demand … if a little slower.

What has changed from the last boom is that companies are much more open to creative solutions to their people needs … companies are actively finding offshore and outsourced solutions.  The big demand in Canada is for skilled resources, whether that be technology, engineering and accounting professionals or tradespeople.  During the last boom in Alberta we saw a big demand for every kind of resource, with “help wanted” signs in every window and some stores closing due to lack of staff.  It remains to be seen whether we will return to those days, but I would NOT bet against it!

My standing advice to ANY company needing people is as follows:  (a) Start the process now with a strong PLANNING phase; (b) develop very clean processes to find, screen, choose, hire and onboard these new resources; and (c) know that you will have a lot of competition and therefore speed in decision making will be critical!

That was my monthly look at the Canadian job market and some of its influences.