Here at Eagle we provide job market information on a regular basis, sometimes at a high level across the country and other times looking in more depth at specific markets. This update is a high-level look at the Canadian job market, and the factors influencing it. In previous months we have provided market updates, specific to different markets, which you can find through the links here:
There are a number of indicators that I have used over the years to give an idea of how things are going, one such indicator is the markets. For this purpose, I have focused on the TSX. When I wrote this update in March of this year the TSX was at its low of 16,000 points, and it has been as high as almost 16,900, but as I write this sits at 16,400. This is probably a decent indicator of Canada’s economy… meh! Not booming, not in the doldrums but not setting the world on fire either.
The unemployment rate is an obvious indicator for the job market and the September numbers were quite positive, adding 54,000 jobs with 41,000 of them in Ontario. This saw the unemployment rate drop to 5.5%, which is pretty close to the year’s best rate which was 5.4%.
In the new world of work, one of the factors that will favor the job seeker is a willingness to go where the jobs are. In Canada, the four largest provinces represent close to 90% of the jobs, with Ontario the largest (close to 40%); Quebec (approx. 23%); BC (13.5%) and Alberta (12.5%). BC and Quebec have the lowest unemployment rate in Canada (4.8%), with Newfoundland & Labrador the highest (11.5%); Manitoba (5%); Ontario and Saskatchewan (5.3%). So, when considering where to look for jobs, a province that employs a lot of people and has a relatively low unemployment rate is a good place to look. BC, Quebec and Ontario all fit that bill. Alberta is still struggling because of the hit on the oil and gas sector so their unemployment rate is 6.6%.
One of the big factors affecting the Alberta market is the price of oil. The price of a barrel in Canada is more than $10 a barrel less than on the WTI price (and more than $15 less than Brent). This is due to a number of factors, including that fact that Canada’s only client is the United States. Until there is a clear change that will likely remain a factor in Alberta’s economy. Having said that, there are still opportunities in Alberta, just not the booming demand we saw in the past.
The hot US market has created significant skills shortages and cost increases for companies with large workforces. This has created an opportunity in Canada, where large US companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc. are adding to their Canadian presence to tap into the talent up here. We have seen big announcements in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto in recent months and I expect this trend to continue. There has been particular interest in the skilled technology talent here in Canada. Canada is also able to attract skilled immigrant talent easier than the US, whose immigration laws are more prohibitive.
Tech job activity is relatively strong in most markets across Canada, even Calgary, which has not returned to pre-oil crisis levels of activity but is still seeing some demand. This makes sense if you recognize that even at a 6.6% unemployment rate, that probably represents an unemployment rate among professionals and in-demand skills of more like 3.5%.
For a more detailed look at the specific markets across Canada, I suggest you read the linked writeups from Eagle’s Executive team across the country, referenced earlier.
Eagle’s focus is technology professionals and the most in demand areas/skills recently have included: Cloud, Healthcare, Government, Telecom, Banking, CRM, BI and AI; Project Managers, Business Analysts, Change Management, Quality Assurance, Architects, Sys Admins, Full Stack developers, Database Admins and Dev Ops engineers.
In summary, people with tech skills and experience should have little difficulty in finding employment, either contract or perm, for the foreseeable future. A willingness to relocate to the bigger centers will only increase their marketability.
The big unknown in the world today is whether there will be a recession, and if so, how deep will it hit. The trading tensions and regional politics around the world are not helping, but generally I am seeing many indicators that 2020 will be a slower year than 2019. A recession is not in the forecast but forecasters have been wrong before! I don’t believe the election will have a negative impact on jobs, whichever party gets in.
For employers, our advice has not changed, it is a “job seekers market” so it is important to hire quickly! Establish clean hiring practices that move candidates quickly through the hiring process. We are seeing more and more multiple job offers and clients losing talent because they are too slow to make a decision.