Western Canada’s mining sector faces bleak employment outlook: report – by David Kennedy (Globe and Mail – March 10, 2015)

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From copper miners to the oil patch, plunging commodity prices are taking a toll on employment in Western Canada – a trend employers see persisting for at least another three months.

While most Canadian companies expect relatively steady hiring in the next quarter, miners in Western Canada are more likely to cut staff, the latest Manpower Inc. employment survey shows.

Across all sectors, 18 per cent of employers say they are looking to hire in the upcoming quarter, while only 5 per cent anticipate downsizing. Taking into account the seasonal adjustment, the net Canadian employment outlook is at 10 per cent, unchanged from last quarter and one percentage point higher than a year ago.

The net employment outlook is the percentage of employers expecting to bring on more staff, minus the percentage of employers expecting to cut back. “I can’t say that it’s strong from a year-over-year [comparison], when you’ve got a one-point percentage increase,” Michelle Dunnill, branch manager of Manpower’s Toronto office, said,“but given our challenges that are transpiring right now, [we’re] cautiously optimistic.”

But collapsing commodity prices – with oil down more than 50 per cent from a year ago – are dragging down expectations in the mining and energy sectors.

One in five Canadian oil and gas companies have said they might have to cut staff as prices slide, according to Ms. Dunnill.

The net employment outlook for the mining sector, which includes some oil sands firms, is 1 per cent, a four-percentage-point quarterly decline and a drop of nine percentage points year over year.

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