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Silver lining for jobs

If you are hunting for a job in the Toronto area this summer, you’d better hope that Big Brother has set his sights on you.

If you are hunting for a job in the Toronto area this summer, you’d better hope that Big Brother has set his sights on you.

The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey suggests that Toronto will face a “conservative hiring climate” during the July-to-September period, with public administration employers appearing the most optimistic about padding their payrolls.

Public administration consists of local, provincial and federal governments.

That includes a variety of jobs in the court system, correctional institutions and social services.

Outside of Toronto, the sector is expected to lead hiring across Ontario and even Canada during the third quarter of 2009.

Lori Rogers, vice-president of staffing services for Manpower Canada, says public administration jobs are poised to be a rare “silver lining” in Ontario’s hard-hit labour market, which is bracing for more manufacturing layoffs. Nationally, the manufacturing sector is facing its “weakest” hiring outlook since 1978.

In sharp contrast, the public administration sector is reporting a “net employment outlook” of 9 per cent for all of Canada once seasonally variations are removed from the data. That compares to a year-ago level of 14 per cent and a second-quarter reading of 10 per cent.

Manpower, a staffing services agency, says its net employment outlook reflects the percentage of employers who plan to hire, minus the percentage of employers mulling over layoffs.

Its forecasting measure brightens considerably on a provincial basis, with public administration reporting a “healthy” third-quarter outlook of 20 per cent for Ontario. The comparable number for Toronto is 9 per cent.

“For those people who are potentially looking for work, then what we’re saying is public administration is still hiring,” Rogers said. She acknowledged, however, that government hiring is not considered a cure-all.

Most economists consider private sector hiring a more accurate gauge of labour market strength.

Last week, Statistics Canada reported that Ontario’s unemployment rate hit 9.4 per cent in May, its highest in 15 years. The province lost 60,000 jobs, the bulk in manufacturing.

Nationally, 42,000 jobs disappeared last month and that net loss pushed the jobless rate to 8.4 per cent. Still, public sector employment rose by 27,000 jobs across Canada, “largely driven by the gains in public administration,” the federal agency said. “It is a real dichotomy,” observed Rogers.

Public administration aside, the Manpower study suggests that employers in finance, insurance and real estate foresee a “mild” third quarter with net employment outlooks of 5 per cent and 8 per cent for Ontario and Toronto, respectively.

Overall, Ontario’s net employment outlook is 4 per cent for the three months ending September 30. That marks a gain of three percentage points over the second quarter’s result, but a whopping 13-percentage-point drop on an annual basis.

Toronto’s third-quarter net employment outlook, meanwhile, is a meagre 2 per cent, a sharp decline from 20 per cent during the same period last year.

Still, it represents a three-percentage point increase from the April-to-June period. “I’d say it is definitely downbeat for Toronto for the next quarter,” Rogers said.

Various other Ontario communities are expressing much more robust outlooks for the summer months. “Fort Erie hiring prospects are the healthiest, with local employers reporting an outlook of +22%. Upbeat expectations are also reported for Niagara Falls, with an outlook of +14%, and York Region, with an outlook of +13%,” the report said.

Four Ontario centres, meanwhile, are predicting “negative headcount growth” for the period.

The Windsor area has the dubious distinction of the nastiest outlook, at minus 17 per cent.

 
 
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