Today Statistics Canada released its monthly Labour Force Survey and the results are slightly more positive than economists had anticipated. There were 35,800 jobs created in August and the unemployment rate edged up a tenth of a percentage point to 8.1%, due to higher participation in the labour market. The Canadian job market has now regained nearly all of the jobs lost during the recession, however, the unemployment rate is roughly 2 per cent higher than it was prior to the start of the decline. This may be partly the result of individuals delaying retirement plans or returning to the workforce to offset personal losses.
While somewhat encouraging, there is a cooling in the pace of job creation. The first six months of the year had an average of 51,000 jobs created per month compared to an average of 13,000 in July and August. This may be partially due to companies postponing hiring plans over the summer and working with leaner teams until which time they are confident in making a full time hire. In addition, many of the gains were the result of the education services sector, as many contracts were renewed in August following large declines the previous month.
In British Columbia the unemployment rate dropped two tenths of a percentage point to 7.3%, with Vancouver and Victoria sitting at 7.4% and 5.5%, respectively. Construction and natural resources, key industries in B.C., also had national monthly gains of 12,000 and 9.000 jobs.
Unfortunately, the labour market for young people aged 15 to 24 remained challenging, but better than the previous year. The average unemployment rate from May to August for this demographic was 16.8%, down from 19.2% in 2009. The average number of hours worked was 23.6 hours per week, likely lower than what many would have preferred and the lowest recorded since 1977. With school back in session, it is likely that we will see the unemployment rate drop slightly in September as there will be fewer individuals in the job market.
While the momentum may slowing down, it is important to note that in previous recessions, it has taken up to two years to regain the jobs lost during a downturn. We have already done this in under a year. The focus must now turn to extending part-time jobs to full-time and increasing wages. All said, we are still faring better than our neighbours to the south, whose unemployment rate remains at 9.6%.
What this means for job seekers
For many, September is a time to buckle down and focus on personal and professional goals. The summer holidays are over and many hiring managers who were previously on vacation or not motivated to hire will likely be turning their attention to bringing on new talent. If you are currently unemployed, use this time to focus on fine tuning your resume and cover letter, applying to jobs, and networking through social media and traditional channels. Those who will be most successful in their job hunt will have exhausted every opportunity. If you are considering changing jobs, browse job listings and think about companies where you can really bring your career to the next level. September is the optimal time to be job hunting as students are back in school and companies are focused on driving revenue for the last quarter.
What this means for hiring managers
With staff returning from vacation, September offers you the chance to review your current staffing and productivity levels at full capacity. Are you missing out on business opportunities or running inefficiently due to a lack of personnel resources? If a full-time hire can’t be made, consider bringing in a temporary or contract professional to help manage workloads until you are in a position to hire on a permanent basis.