The Eagle Blog

CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Aug/Sep 2010

General Observations:

In August Canada gained 80,000 full time jobs and lost 44,000 part time jobs, for a net gain of 36,000 jobs … however an increase in people entering the workforce meant that the unemployment rate went up, albeit marginally, from 8% to 8.1%. The Canadian Staffing index for August was up 4 basis points, suggesting strong growth in the temporary help and contract world in August. As we have seen for some time now, any good news appears to come with a little bad news too … so, while the recovery continues in an overall positive trajectory, it is slow and with a “2 steps forward, one step back” motion.

The markets continue to be volatile, however at time of writing the TSX is up a little at 12,144, from last month at this time when it was 11,788. The Bank of Canada introduced its third hike in three months resulting in the prime business rate hitting 3%. The intent being to fight inflation, however there is still concern that the recovery is not yet stable enough to put it at risk by increasing the cost of borrowing. The housing markets have slowed down and the banks are getting competitive with mortgage rates to try and generate some business that way.

Eagle focuses on the supply of both IT professionals and Accounting professionals and at a high level we are seeing a continued increase in demand across the board, with some markets getting quite hot (GTA), some “getting there” (Calgary, Montreal) and other still improving but not yet there (Vancouver, Edmonton). There are also markets where things are just not even warm yet (Ottawa).

More Specifically:

As already indicated, the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) continues to be the hottest market in demand for professionals. The financial sector drives the demand but we are seeing other sectors heating up too, notably the communications sector and insurance industry with increasing demand almost across the board. More and more we are seeing savvy clients “locking in” on longer term contracts, and ensuring that their hiring processes are “slick” to ensure they don’t lose great people through indecision. The best candidates are in great demand and enjoying “multiple offers”, so clients are again looking at attraction and retention strategies. The Ontario government market has been somewhat slower than expected, but the pent-up demand is expected to hit some time in the Fall

Alberta continues to lead the way in demand in Western Canada, but is certainly not back to the “boom days” of a couple of years ago. One trend that appears to be increasing is the awarding of large scale outsourcing contracts which will see more work move offshore. In the meantime there is still a pretty healthy demand, and the “great” resources are being snapped up quickly. August, while a traditionally quieter month due to vacations was actually quite busy, so September is expected to “raise the bar” in demand for talent, even higher. The rest of the West was a little quiet in August, with some talk of coming initiatives in the Fall, but not a lot of action.

In Eagle’s Eastern Canada Region Montreal continues to be quite busy, most particularly in the permanent rather than temp/contract world, and like the GTA it is the financial sector, telcos and system integrators that have the biggest demand. Ottawa has been very quiet of late, with word that employment in the Federal ranks reduced year over year (from 165,500 to 159,000) for the first time in a long time(lowest since 2005). Once again the Fall is anticipated to bring an increase in demand, which will be welcomed by most suppliers.

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

> The price of oil is a little over $75 a barrel, about the same as last month … activity in the oil patch continues to be busy.
> Natural Gas prices are pretty steady.
> The markets continue to be pretty volatile, however the TSX was up a little to 12,144 from 11,781 last month.
> The Canadian dollar remains about the same at $97.83c US.
> Prime rose to 3% after three recent increases!
> Canada added 80,000 full time jobs, lost 44,000 part time jobs resulting in a gain of 36,000 jobs, however there was a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 8.1% from 8.0%.
> Eagle continues to see a pickup in activity in most sectors … banks, energy companies, and telcos in particular. Clients are recognising the need to develop recruitment and retention strategies, in addition to having smooth efficient hiring practices.
> The Canadian Federal government seems to have slowed spending and reduced its employment ranks. Suppliers in this market are all hurting a little.
> Canada’s Staffing Index gained 4 basis points to 89, against the benchmark 100 set in July 2008 … another significant step towards recovery.


Job seekers in the Canadian market enjoy the fact that Canada is faring better than many other countries. Canada is generally adding jobs on a regular basis, enjoys an unemployment rate of 8.1% compared to higher in the EU and the US. The Canadian dollar is also consistently strong, helping many Canadian companies and many indicators are good that our recovery is continuing.

We are however still recovering from recession, and while there is increasing demand for the most qualified workers, there is still reduced appetite for investment in new entrants to the workforce, or in retooling employees. This will change as the economy continues to recover and we truly start to see the skills and labour shortages reappear. Until that time job applicants will need to work hard to get jobs.

In most of the major markets we are seeing an increase in demand for “skilled”, experienced professionals. The end of the summer vacation period should see an increase in activity and we are expecting a very busy hiring period

We are educating our clients on the need to develop excellent retention strategies, contract for longer periods and move quickly when in the hiring cycle. These best practices will ensure that they don’t lose out on the best candidates because someone else was that bit quicker, or had slightly better “selling messages”.

Next month I anticipate telling you about just how busy the market has been … let’s hope I’m right!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Eagle finds GREAT Technology employees for our clients across Canada!


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