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CANADIAN JOB MARKET - Mini update May Jun 2011


General Observations:

Employment in Canada was up again in May, adding 33,000 full time jobs for an overall gain of 22,000 new jobs.  A drop in job seekers means that the unemployment numbers have now improved from 7.6% last month to 7.4% this month.  Canada has added 273,000 jobs in the last twelve months.

The Canadian Dollar continues to be strong at $1.03 US, which is where it was this time last month.  The US dollar however does seem to be strengthening against other currencies.  The markets continue to have a rough ride, and the TSX is down 680 points from last month, going from 13,625 to 12,946 … although it must be said that this time last year it was down around 11,500.   The price of oil remains high, currently sitting at $96.99 a barrel.  This is down $1.44 cents from last month, it is expected to rise.  A strong price per barrel usually translates into more investment by the oil and gas sector and therefore more jobs.

 Here at Eagle, May saw a decent increase in demand from our clients, with about 5% more orders than April.  When we look at our billable hours we continuing a strong recovery, but mirror the economy with a long slow road back to pre-recession times. 

More Specifically:

The GTA(Greater Toronto Area) continues as a hot market and we are seeing all of the attributes of that kind of market.  (a) Clients who are slow to make an offer are losing their candidates, (b) good candidates are picking and choosing between offers and (c) we are starting to see ex-contractors who took full time jobs during the recession testing the contract market again.  The demand is high across the professions and clients want both full time AND contract staff.  Banking and insurance sectors are probably among the hottest, with the telcos close on their heels.  We are also seeing increased demand in retail and the system integrators with the mining sector hot too.  This changing market can be a tough time for clients as they realize that costs are increasing and in order to get the top candidates they can’t afford to take their time with hiring decisions.  One area that is not so hot is government, with a pending election in Ontario there is a sense of “status quo”.

 In Western Canada, we are seeing a renewed investment in technology systems to meet pent up demand and we are also seeing a strong demand for finance professionals to catch up on some of the regulatory and other project needs of the last couple of years.  We don’t yet see ‘help wanted” on every street corner (like we did pre-recession), but we are headed that way for sure!  This again creates a clash as clients try to hold firm on rates and great candidates have multiple job offers to choose from.  As we go through this transition from a “cold market” to a “hot market” there is that strange period where “in demand’ people are scarce but there are still good people looking for work.  One of the biggest factors that impact whether companies get the resources they want is how quickly they make an offer when they find a candidate that they like… with multiple opportunities on the go, strong candidates do not last long on the market.  Business analysts continue to be the one skill set that could be singled out as almost universally in demand; PM’s would be a close second.  The impact of oil and gas companies spending also extends to Saskatchewan and its economy continues to perform well. Among the other Western cities Edmonton is probably the next busiest after Calgary, with some “life” in Vancouver and Regina.  Most other markets are improving, but would not be considered “hot”.  Demand is relatively strong across the Western provincial governments, with Alberta (Edmonton) and BC the most active.

 Eagle’s Eastern Canada region is mostly Ottawa and Montreal, although we do see some (relatively small) demand from the Maritimes.  Canada has a new majority government and they have declared that they will reduce the public service, which will mean attrition of public sector jobs but might mean some work for consultants in Ottawa during the transition … but the city is likely to continue to be slow for a little while longer.  Expectations are that projects may get rolling in the Fall necessitating senior “front end” resources, and that is when we might see an uptake in demand.  Montreal continues to be quite busy, with demand in the financial services and telecommunications spaces and focus on full time roles, but still some demand for contractors.

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

> The price of oil remains high at $96.99 a barrel.
> The TSX dropped close to 700 points to 12,946 this month.
> The Canadian dollar remains strong at $1.03 US, the same as last month.
> Prime remains at 3% but can’t stay there too much longer.
> Canada’s employment numbers improved again this month as we added 33,000 full time jobs at a cost of 11,000 part time jobs with an improvement in the unemployment rate to 7.4% (7.6% last month).
> Eagle continues to be busy in its largest markets Toronto and Calgary with steady business in most other markets. 


May was very much a “same again” month, strong demand for top talent in Canada’s two biggest markets and reasonable demand in most other cities.  We are still in that “no man’s land” moving towards a booming labour market as we recover from the recession … which means there is still uncertainty.  Clients still expect to be able to take their time in finding the perfect candidate and think that they have the strength in bargaining power … yet the best candidates are getting multiple offers and are able to pick and choose their jobs.  There are also very good people still looking for jobs, they are just not yet among the “in demand” skills sets.  Blips in the stock market, precipitated by defaulting countries like Greece are dampening optimism and causing concern for a new economic slowdown … however, global events aside, there is much optimism for a continued recovery leading to even more demand for skilled resources. 

As usual I will end this write up with 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;
(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.