The Eagle Blog

CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Monthly Update Sep Oct

General Observations:  

The staffing world tends to slow down during July and August due to vacations, and the difficulty of getting decision makers to make a timely decision! September however is usually a busier month as those managers play catch-up on their staffing needs.  That trend can be seen in the Statistics Canada numbers showing that Canada added 61,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate improved by 0.2% to 7.1%, which is the lowest rate since December 2008.  

At time of writing, the Canadian Dollar was basically unchanged from last month and is still above par at just over $1.01 US … and the markets continue to fluctuate wildly.  The world struggles with numerous issues the latest being the various “Occupy” protests started in Wall Street, but now global.  Europe is contemplating another bailout to deal with sovereign debt issues, particularly with the PIIGS.  The uncertainty continues to erode confidence in corporations around the world, in addition to the stock markets that provide them with their valuations.  Once again the TSX, here in Canada is down, this time about 280 points to 11,849.  As if all of this were not enough the oil patch continues to deal with environmental issues and the price per barrel is down slightly to $86.16 US.  

Here at Eagle, we continue to see some growth however we did not see a spike in orders in September, which remained at the July and August levels.  Our clients are still cautious but there is a steady demand for talent in the hotter markets. 

More Specifically:

If you are looking for work the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is a good place to be looking, as there is still strong demand for talent here.  Having said that, clients are still being very picky and finding themselves missing out on great resources as the best candidates are getting to pick and choose from multiple offers.  I would have expected this to have applied upward pressure on rates and margins, but we are not seeing that yet.  The Ontario election is behind us and I expect to see some government projects move ahead now that the Liberals have secured a third term in office.  

Calgary is busy too and the place to be in Western Canadaif you have good skills and are looking for work.  While the oil sector is facing some challenges, the price per barrel is still good and projects are proceeding at a healthy pace.  This buoyancy affects most of the Western cities in Alberta and Saskatchewan particularly, so the job market is fairly robust throughout the West.  

Ottawa remains an enigma in Eagle’s Eastern Canada region, as we await the work that must flow from the big shared services initiatives in the Federal Government.  As a “government town”, if the “Feds” are not spending then there is nothing much new happening.  Montreal however is “happening”, and not just its legendary nightlife!  The banks and telecommunications companies in particular seem to be busy here.  The expectation in Halifax is that the very recently announced shipbuilding contracts will result in some job growth.

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

> the price of oil was very slightly down from last month at just over $86.

> The TSX lost another 280 points this month currently sitting at 11,849.

> The Canadian dollar is about the same as the last two months at just over $1.01 US.

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

> Canada’s unemployment rate dropped for the second month in a row, this time by 0.2% to 7.1%.

> Eagle continues to be busy in its largest markets Toronto and Calgary with steady business in most other markets.  September volumes were very similar to August. 

The Summer months saw a slight downturn in demand for labour after three strong months of growth.  September saw an increase in jobs across Canada, although Eagle saw fairly flat demand.

There is little change from August with healthy demand for talent in the larger centres, with Toronto and Calgary leading the way, Montreal and Edmonton following, and “the rest” showing “some” signs of life.  There is little change in the industries that we see generating demand for professional help, which are the financial sector, retail, utilities companies, telecommunications, system integration companies and some levels of government. 

The global unrest, protests, sovereign debt issues, volatile stock markets and environmental issues affecting the oil patch keep our economy “jumpy”.  Until we see some relative stability  don’t think we will see a lot of change.  The willingness of some unions to threaten action during this fragile time also hurts our ability to create jobs, hence the Federal Government’s intervention in the proposed Air Canada strike.

I still expect a continued increase in demand for skilled labour over the coming months.  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 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.


Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!


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