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CANADIAN JOB MARKET - Mini update Apr May 2011


General Observations:

Overall employment for Canada in the month of April was up about 58,000 (mostly part time) jobs. For the second month in a row the employment rate improved by 0.1% meaning that it was 7.6% in April. Canada is basically back where it was before the recession both in total jobs AND total “full-time” jobs.

Canada’s inflation rate surged to to 3.3% in March, which is worrisome, but the Bank of Canada has resisted raising the prime bank rate from its current position at 3% . Moody’s described Canada as the first G7 country to make the jump from recession to “self-sustaining expansion” … but their analysts feel we are operating below potential. A Heidrick and Struggles Global Talent Index shows that global demand is outstripping supply, suggesting that labour shortages are imminent … they point to a growing demand in oil and gas sector as the biggest factor in Canada.

The Canadian Dollar remains very strong, trading at $1.03 US as we speak. The markets have been through some significant fluctuation this month, and today the TSX is sitting at 13,625, down about 200 points from last month. The price of oil has been up and down significantly lately and today is sitting at $98.43 a barrel down 9 cents from last month, but still high and expected to rise. As referenced above the oil and gas sector will benefit from this resulting in higher demand for people!

Here at Eagle, April saw a slight decrease in the amount of activity. Client demand slowed a little and the flow of resumes through the website also slowed a little. Early indicators in May are that this brief respite is just that … the pace has picked up again! April was somewhat affected by the Canadian general election which typically results in a slowdown in government demand … but a majority government will typically mean some projects will now move ahead.

More Specifically:

The GTA (Greater Toronto Area)is still the hottest job market in Canada, and despite a slight dip in demand during April, May is busy again! Clients across all sectors are picking up the pace, looking for professionals to help them with their projects … both on a contract basis and as full time employees. The financial services sector remains the strongest with big demand in the capital markets area particularly. Other strong sectors include the highly competitive telecommunications sector, retail and insurance as well as the System Integrators that service all of these clients. As can be expected in a market that has changed … moving from the very slow of several months ago, to the very hot of today … is changes in both client and candidate behaviours. Many clients still expect rates to be lower, and many candidates expect rates to be higher … it’s just not that easy. Hence we are seeing that time when expectations need to be tempered with reality … a higher than normal amount of candidates turning down offers and a higher than normal number of clients missing out on the best candidates.

In Western Canada, as previously mentioned, the price of oil hovering in the $100 a barrel price range means that many Calgary based companies are executing on projects that had been on hold. Like Toronto the changing market sees a clash in demand, the clients still expecting lower rates and the candidates expecting increases. This will likely continue for a few months as the system “evens out” … meanwhile some clients are missing out on the best people, who always seem to have another offer around the corner. The demand for all professionals is high in Calgary, but Business Analysts seem to be in most demand. Among other Western markets Edmonton is the closest to Calgary for demand, but certainly not nearly as busy. The other major markets are steady but not particularly busy!

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region is mostly Ottawa and Montreal, although we do see some demand from the Maritimes … which this last couple of months has been slow. The Federal election did cause a slowdown in the government demand as expected, but a majority government in place should see some movement in projects that have needed this stability before proceeding. Montreal is still a fairly busy market with demand in the financial services and telecommunications spaces.

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

> The price of oil has been fluctuating but remains high at $98.43 a barrel.
> At 13,625 the TSX dropped about 200 points from last month.
> The Canadian dollar continues to be very strong, above par with the US dollar at $1.03 US.
> Prime remains at 3% however there continues to be talk about when this will go up again, particularly with inflation rearing its head!
> Canada’s employment numbers improved this month as we added 58,000 (part time) jobs and improving the unemployment rate to 7.6%.
> Eagle continues to see high demand despite a slightly slower April, May is picking up and all indicators are for another busy month! This was reiterated in conversation with staffing industry leaders at this month’s industry conference.


It seems that most market continue to pick up the pace of demand for talent .. most particularly in the financial services, telecommunications and oil sectors. This is good news if you are looking for work, but there are also plenty of signs that we will be seeing skills and labour shortages in the not too distant future. The Heidrick and Struggles report tells us this is a global phenomenon (no surprises) so Canada will be competing with the rest of the world for talent, it is going to be an interesting time.

Canada continues to do well as compared to other countries, and Moody’s description that we are the sole G7 country in a period of “self-sustaining expansion” is a good sign. We are seeing more and more indicators that the pendulum is swinging to the point where there are more clients looking for great people, than great people looking for jobs. This is where the staffing industry can really bring value to its clients. I will be continuing 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 on board these new resources; (c) know that you will have a lot of competition and therefore speed in decision making will be critical; (d) the job doesn’t stop there … retention becomes the next challenge!

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