The Eagle Blog

CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Oct Nov 2011

General Observations:

We are well into the Fall and what should be one of the busiest hiring times of the year.  The Summer vacations are behind us and the holiday season is yet to come, so people are focused on work.  The staffing world tends to be very busy at this time of year and there are definitely “pockets of busy”, but generally things have not “ramped up”.  After a couple of months of job growth Statistics Canada reported that  Canada lost 54,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate deteriorated by 0.2% to 7.3%.  

At time of writing, the Canadian Dollar is still above par at just over $1.02 US … and market volatility continues.  The “Occupy” protests seem to be losing steam although pundits suggest there will be more to come.  Two European leaders have lost their jobs, (Greece and Italy), which was seen as a positive in the markets and there is some optimism that things will improve.  This month (at time of writing) the TSX, here in Canada is up about 300 points over last month.  In just the last week however, the TSX has fluctuated between 12050 and 12350, demonstrating the uncertainty “out there”.  The oil patch in Canada was dealt a blow this month with the Obama administration making a “political no decision” on the Keystone pipeline under pressure from environmental groups.  However the price of oil over the last month has increased from $86 a barrel last month to more than $102 a barrel this month.  

Here at Eagle we supply executive and management consultants, finance professionals and IT professionals to our clients across all industries.  We continue to see steady demand for these resources and have experienced growth each month.  Instead of the expected big increase in demand for October we saw a slight decrease in demand over September which is probably a result of the EU debacle playing out.  Uncertainty in the markets translates into a reluctance to hire full time resources, however work needs to get done and can translate into more temporary or contract work.  The ACSESS index (measuring temporary work in Canada) would bear this out as it increased by 13 basis points over the period August and September indicating a significant growth demand for temporary and contract workers.

More Specifically:

The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is still a good place to be looking for work, and remains the hottest market in Canada.  Having said that, clients still feel that they can “pick and choose” and don’t realise the urgency required when making hiring decisions in a hot market, which can result in losing great candidates.  It is still the financial sector, insurance and telecommunications companies that are the busiest.  Having said that, most industry sectors in the Toronto area, are somewhat busy. 

Calgary rivals Toronto for “job hot spot in Canada” and is certainly the busiest market in Western Canada if you have good skills and are looking for work.  There is some concern that the recent US decision about the Keystone project will have a negative effect on the oil sector, resulting in decreased demand.  Calgary might currently be the hottest spot, but it appears that demand is picking up in most Western markets, with Alberta and Saskatchewan leading the way.  

In Eagle’s Eastern Canada region, we are not seeing as much demand as in other markets.  The one bright light might be Montreal which continues with a steady demand.  Ottawa will likely languish for a few more months while departments struggle with their cuts and the introduction of Shared Services.  Once those plans are in place I expect that there will be some demand, even while they are shedding full time jobs.  The East coast tends to be quiet on the jobs front, and we have seen no big increase in demand.

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

> the price of oil was back up, over $102 a barrel this month.

> The TSX gained 300 points this month currently sitting at 12,140.

> The Canadian dollar is about the same as the last two months at just over $1.02 US.

> Prime remains at 3% and is expected to remain steady until the markets stabilise.

> Canada’s unemployment rate increased with the loss of 54,000 jobs to 7.3%.

> Eagle continues to be busy in its largest markets Toronto and Calgary with steady business in most other markets.  October volumes were down slightly from September.


The Fall has not seen a big increase in demand, with the state of world economies continuing to dampen an appetite to hire full time, however the ACSESS index shows a strong increase in demand for a flexible workforce.  Statistics Canada tell us that Canada lost 54,000 jobs in October however at a micro level Eagle’s experience would suggest a general increase in demand for professionals.

The hottest markets and the hottest industry sectors have not changed in some time now.  Toronto and Calgary are very busy markets, experiencing skills shortages and the associated issues such as “multiple offers”, “contract jumping” etc.  Montreal and Edmonton are also active markets with most other markets experiencing some demand.   The industries that we see generating demand for professional help are the financial sector, insurance, retail, utilities companies, telecommunications, system integration companies and some levels of government. 

When the markets are volatile there is an effect on job hiring … companies don’t want the long term commitment of full time staff and some are forced to lay off.  We continue to be affected by world affairs, including (resulting in) the change in leadership in Greece and Italy, global “occupy” protests (perhaps losing steam), sovereign debt issues, volatile stock markets and environmental issues (Keystone pipeline decision costing thousands of jobs in the US) affecting the oil patch keep our economy “jumpy”.  Companies are, however, continuing to “do business” and the flexibility offered by temporary and contract workers means that our industry is generally busy.

I expect to see a continued increase in demand for skilled labour over the coming months … most particularly at the very senior level, and specialists that can help companies prepare for growth.  The hottest markets are experiencing some skills shortages, therefore hiring managers need to keep this in mind, despite the doom and gloom around the world!  As has become my recent practice, 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.

4 thoughts on “CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Oct Nov 2011

  1. The report of 54 000 jobs lost from the October LFS survey is interesting. The month before, it had been had reported that we gained around 60 000 jobs. A swing of over 100 000 net job gains between two months is quite severe.

    The LFS actually has a very high margin of error, something like +/- 50 000 jobs (sorry, can’t find a link). Considering that, and the trend from the previous month, I tend to think that October’s report lands in the extreme low end of the margin for error (just as September’s would probably be in the extreme high end).

    This doesn’t mean the LFS is useless, it just means that we have to take the MoE into account when looking at a particular month, and that the long term trends shown in the LFSs are probably more useful.

  2. Jonathan … I agree, statistical data is always more relevant over longer period of time. When I produce this report monthly it is just one more indicator that I use.

    When I combine the Stas Canada data with the ACSESS index, what is happening with our own client base across Canada, anecdotal discussion with peers across Canada and some of the other indicators I use it give a “sense” of what is really happening.

    Interestingly enough a very senior economist told me last year that he likes to read this update as validation for the date he sees!

  3. As a citizen of Toronto I always try to find the most recent data about unemployment in my city and its possible impact on my life and I was really surprised by the currently released Toronto’s Vital Signs Report which has revealed the weaknesses that the city will have to deal with one of them being the fact that employers are not very sympathetic toward young workers and immigrants which results in the highest unemployment rates among these two groups.

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