A subdued hiring market will face job seekers in the first quarter of 2004 as Canadian employers are divided on staffing plans reveals the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey. According to more than 1,700 Canadian employers polled for the survey 15 per cent expect to add staff while 14 per cent plan to reduce the number of employees for the January to March period, resulting in a Net Employment Outlook of one per cent for the quarter ahead. Sixty-seven per cent anticipate no changes and four per cent are unsure of their hiring intentions. “The figures indicate that there’s a split in hiring intentions," said Lori Procher, Vice President and General Manager for Manpower Canada. "The first quarter is typically a reserved hiring period and this year is no different with a Net Employment Outlook of one per cent, up two per cent from the same time last year." Three months ago the projected Net Employment Outlook was eight per cent indicating a cautiously optimistic end to the year. "Hiring projections across all four Canadian regions are similar to the national outlook," said Procher. "Western Canada leads with a Net Employment Outlook of five per cent, ahead of Quebec and Ontario at two per cent and zero per cent respectively. Atlantic Canada has the lowest Net Employment Outlook at negative four per cent." Employers in the Education as well as Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sectors are most optimistic with their hiring plans for the first quarter, particularly the Education sector, which continues a five-year run of encouraging outlooks. A weaker picture is reported in the Manufacturing – Durable Goods; Manufacturing – Non-durable Goods; Services; and Transportation and Public Utilities sectors. The Construction and Wholesale and Retail Trades sectors project the lowest outlooks. The results by sector are as follows:
Construction – The first quarter is typically the slowest in the Construction sector and this year is no exception with 13 per cent expecting to hire and 29 per cent planning cutbacks for a Net Employment Outlook of negative 16 per cent. This outlook is down slightly from the same time last year.
Education – Education is expected to be the strongest sector with a Net Employment Outlook of 15 per cent, similar to the same time last year. The Education sector has experienced a strong first quarter each of the last four years and has consistently been at the top of the sectors surveyed.
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate – This sector shows a modest gain from last quarter with 18 per cent planning to hire and 7 per cent reporting cutbacks for a Net Employment Outlook of 11 per cent. Outlooks for the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector have been steady since late 2002.
Manufacturing Durable Goods Manufacturing Durable Goods employers are expecting the strongest first quarter in the past three years with a Net Employment Outlook of one per cent, up significantly from the first quarters of 2002 and 2003. This could be a sign that the sector is headed for a turn around in the upcoming months.
Manufacturing Non-durable Goods – Manufacturing Non-durable Goods hiring activity remains flat with two consecutive weak quarters. Sixteen per cent of employers are expecting to hire while 14 per cent are planning to cut back for a Net Employment Outlook of two per cent. This is a minor setback compared to last year which started with a four per cent Net Employment Outlook, with the sector gaining momentum in the second quarter of 2003.
Mining – The Mining sector is predicting a modest first quarter with 17 per cent of employers expecting to make additions to staff while 11 per cent anticipate reductions for a Net Employment Outlook of six per cent.
Public Administration – The Public Administration sector is one of the strongest sectors in the first quarter with a Net Employment Outlook of nine per cent. Although expectations are disappointing compared to the same time last year when the Outlook was 24 per cent, the sector has been solid for almost five years.
Services – The first quarter Net Employment Outlook of three per cent is an improvement from the first quarters of 2002 and 2003 which had Net Employment Outlooks of 0 per cent. While the Services sector has shown instability over some time now, the improvement for the January to March period could be an encouraging sign for job seekers in the upcoming year.
Transportation & Public Utilities – This quarter’s Net Employment Outlook of two per cent is the lowest since 1998 and the third consecutive decline in the first quarter outlook. The sector has been stable for some time with the occasional erratic jump or decline in hiring activity.
Wholesale & Retail Trade – The Wholesale & Retail Trades sector finds itself struggling with a Net Employment Outlook of negative eight per cent as 15 per cent expect to hire while 23 per cent anticipate cutbacks. With the exception of the first quarter in 2000, this sector has historically posted weak first quarter job outlooks following the busy holiday season.
About the Survey
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is conducted quarterly to measure employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce during the next quarter. It is the only forward-looking survey of its kind, unparalleled in size, scope, longevity and area of focus. The survey has been running for more than 40 years and is one of the most trusted surveys of employment activity in the world. The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey in Canada is based on interviews with more than 1,700 public and private employers in 43 markets across the country and is considered a highly respected economic indicator. The margin of error for the Canadian survey is +/- 2.