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CANADIAN JOB MARKET - Mini update Mar Apr 2011

Overall employment for Canada in the month of March was basically unchanged however Canada did add 91,000 full time jobs at the cost of 92,000 part time jobs. The employment rate was 7.7%, which was an improvement of 0.1% over February. 


A recent report shows that bankruptcies in Canada year over year (2009 to 2010) fell by 13%, with a month over month (November to December) drop of 14%.  The implication being that these improved numbers reflect an improved economy, and hence better job prospects.  The Conference Board however is concerned that following a stellar performance through the recession we are now starting to slip against our peers, as other countries outperform us.  Canada is expected to rank #9 among 17 peer countries this year as opposed to #6 in both 2008 and 2009.  

The Canadian Dollar remains very strong, still close to parity and as we speak it is trading at 96c U.S. The TSX is up slightly but essentially unchanged, with a reading of 13,837 as opposed to 13,718 in last month’s market update.  World events have however conspired to send the price of oil skyrocketing, currently sitting at $107 a barrel and expected to hit $125 a barrel.  This is a boon for the Western oil based economies and is certainly reflected in the increased job opportunities. 

For Eagle, March had a high number of potential workdays, which typically means the number of hours billed will be high … it is also a month where many people take their March Break vacation.  The other impact in March is it represents a high number of natural contract end dates, based primarily on the government cycle which has March 31stas a year end.  It was interesting that the number of new orders received was about the same as February however the number of new candidates applying was up 10%, the hours billed this month was however up significantly over February.  A one month comparison doesn’t mean much, but my impression is that the economic recovery continues to be slow, steady and cautious. 

More Specifically:

The GTA(Greater Toronto Area) is the largest economic centre in Canada, has the most “head offices” and therefore can be expected to be a big demand market for people.  In March we saw the demand continue to be strong across the board, with clients of all types looking for resources in the technology space in addition to Finance and Accounting professionals.  There is no change in where the biggest demand is coming from … the financial sector and the telecom sector continuing to invest in people. 

In Western Canada, as previously mentioned, the price of oil being well over $100/barrel means that many Calgary based companies have money to invest in their systems.  This creates demand throughout the “systems” of suppliers, and ancillary companies supporting that economy.  So Calgary is booming and Edmonton is busy, but expecting to get busier as a part of the booming oil economy. 

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region is mostly Ottawa and Montreal, although we are seeing some demand from the Maritimes.  The announcement of a Federal election will once again cause government demand to dry up as people wait to see what their new political masters will want to focus on.  It would be nice to see some political stability … it’s been a long time!  Montreal remains quite busy, and it is still largely driven by the financial services and telecommunications clients. 

The following are some facts/indicators we are watching as of time of writing:

> The price of oil skyrocketed with the middle east disruption, and is currently at $107.80 a barrel, with a one year forecast of $125.
> At 13,837 the TSX is about the same as last month, when it was 13,718.
> The Canadian dollar continues to be strong and remains north of 96 cents US.
> Prime remains at 3% however there continues to be talk about when this will go up again!
> Canada’s employment numbers were about the same as last month however we added 91,000 full time jobs and lost 92,000 part time jobs.  The unemployment rate improved very slightly from7.8% to 7.7%.
> Eagle experienced growth again in March, in hours billed and in the number of candidates applying, however the number of new orders was about the same as February.


World events have affected economies everywhere, with Japan’s tsunami likely to affect the availability of electronic components and the Middle East unrest causing disruptions in oil supply.  Canada remains one of the world’s healthier economies but as pointed out by the Conference Board we are falling behind as other countries accelerate out of their recessions and grow faster than us.

Demand for people is on the rise everywhere as companies gain confidence and start to reinvest in their growth and catch up on projects that had been put on hold.  In the hottest markets (Toronto and Calgary) there is definitely a shift where the top candidates are in great demand, have multiple job offers and picking and choosing.  Skills shortages are here and even the top 7 accounting firms cited the skills shortage as their number one concern, with an immediate problem attracting people into the accounting profession.  Emerging markets such driven by the smart metering world in utilities (see Itrons recent win at BC Hydro) will only exacerbate demand for skilled resources.

The demand across all markets is generally up and we continue the move from an “employer driven” market to an “employee driven’ market.  Hence my “standing advice” to ANY company needing people  (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.