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Temporary Jobs Are Canada's Future: Report

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A pronounced shift toward temporary gigs and unstable positions could become the new normal for this generation as demand for short-term workers rises across the country, according to one of the country’s biggest employment firms.

The latest job figures show the economy unexpectedly shed some 9,400 jobs in June. That leaves the country with some 72,000 jobs created in the past year, an increase of just 0.4 per cent, the lowest year-over-year growth rate since February 2010, when employment growth just started to pick up after the 2008-2009 recession, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Full-time jobs rose 0.2 per cent since last June, while part-time gigs are up one per cent, an indication that employers are preferring less commitment in their hires.

Such a slow growing market, a reflection of insecurity about the global economy, is ripe for an increase in temporary jobs. Demand for temporary workers grew by 15 per cent in the second quarter of the year, compared to the same quarter of 2013, research from Randstad Canada suggests.

Temporary blue collar jobs are in high demand, with a 40-per-cent increase from just the first quarter of this year to the second quarter, the analysis found.

Western Canada has seen the biggest increases in temporary white collar jobs, up 18 per cent year over year as of May.

The allure of temporary work is strong for employers who aren’t obligated to provide pension plans, benefits or vacation days. And in a job market where supply is plentiful --- the unemployment rate climbed to 7.1 per cent in June -- employers can be picky about hiring conditions and still fill jobs.

The trend is part of a realignment in the job market away from lifelong employment at one company and toward contract, freelance and temporary work, what critics call “precarious work.”

Young people who are just starting out in the job market are being offered many of the temporary jobs. Their lack of experience puts them in weaker bargaining positions and often a contract is held out with the prospect of it turning into a permanent job. In June, employment actually declined among people aged 15 to 54.

The trend toward higher levels of temporary employment reflects the unstable economic environment that has dominated the past few years, said Randstad Canada’s president Tom Turpin.

Companies like to hire full-time employees when things are concrete. Over the past six years, there has been uncertainty around the direction of the economy and more recently a number of elections, which has influenced many businesses to hold tight on spending and hiring.

The lingering effects of the recession explain why the gains in employment continue to be weaker than some expected, said Tara Talbot, vice-president of human resources at jobs website Workopolis.

"The recession hit a lot of companies hard, and it seems that many have been reluctant to increase expenses by bringing on full-time permanent staff. So this has contributed to an increased use of part-time and contract employees."

The persistent slow growth has hit younger workers especially hard, Talbot said, adding that some older employees who had retired or were planning on it soon have stayed in the workforce, putting more pressure on young people who must now compete with more experienced employees.

But temp work can benefit employees as well, Turpin argued, because it allows both “to try each other out before committing to permanent positions.”

So far there hasn’t been a dramatic drop in full-time jobs, but that could soon change if employers continue to see more benefit in contract work, Turpin said.

“There are legislative and cultural forces at work that take years to shift,” he said.

However, Canada could soon move toward more temporary work, in line with levels in the U.S. and Europe, where contracting makes up a bigger segment of the workforce, Turpin said.

“What works in the USA often flows upward to the Canadian labour market,” he said.

“Canada’s split between temporary and permanent labour is close to 30/70, while in Germany, which is a more mature contingent labour market, that split is 55/45.”

The lingering effects of the recession explain why the gains in employment continue to be weaker than some expected, said Tara Talbot, vice-president of human resources at jobs website Workopolis.

"The recession hit a lot of companies hard, and it seems that many have been reluctant to increase expenses by bringing on full-time permanent staff. So this has contributed to an increased use of part-time and contract employees."

The persistent slow growth has hit younger workers especially hard, she said, adding that some older employees who had retired or were planning on it soon have stayed in the workforce, putting more pressure on young people who must now compete with more experienced employees.

A Law Commission of Ontario study in 2012 found that 22 per cent of jobs in that province fit the description of “precarious work.”

It also pointed out that between 2001 and 2011 the rate of part-time workers inched higher from 18.1 per cent to 19.9 per cent and temporary workers grew from 12.8 per cent to 13.8 per cent of the workforce.

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From The Canadian Press:

OTTAWA - The national unemployment rate was 7.1 per cent in June. Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month average unemployment for major cities but cautions the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. (Previous month in brackets.)

St. John's, N.L. 6.8 (6.4)
Halifax 5.5 (5.8)
Moncton, N.B. 6.0 (5.9)
Saint John, N.B. 7.7 (7.7)
Saguenay, Que. 9.7 (9.8)
Quebec 5.4 (5.0)
Sherbrooke, Que. 8.0 (8.6)
Trois-Rivieres, Que. 8.4 (8.3)
Montreal 8.3 (8.0)
Gatineau, Que. 6.4 (6.5)
Ottawa 6.9 (6.8)
Kingston, Ont. 6.4 (6.9)
Peterborough, Ont. 9.7 (11.1)
Oshawa, Ont. 7.2 (7.3)
Toronto 7.9 (7.6)
Hamilton, Ont. 7.2 (6.9)
St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 7.9 (8.0)
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 6.4 (6.7)
Brantford, Ont. 6.7 (7.2)
Guelph, Ont. 7.8 (7.6)
London, Ont. 7.4 (7.7)
Windsor, Ont. 9.0 (8.6)
Barrie, Ont. 6.5 (7.3)
Sudbury, Ont. 7.0 (6.7)
Thunder Bay, Ont. 5.2 (5.8)
Winnipeg 5.8 (5.9)
Regina 3.6 (3.4)
Saskatoon 3.8 (4.2)
Calgary 5.4 (5.4)
Edmonton 5.5 (5.2)
Kelowna, B.C. 5.2 (4.7)
Abbotsford, B.C. 7.6 (7.5)
Vancouver 5.6 (5.5)
Victoria 5.2 (5.2)



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