MONTREAL ― It’s called the “brain drain” ― the trend of highly-skilled or educated Canadians moving to the U.S. for higher salaries or a warmer climate ― and it’s been a concern for policymakers for decades.
Now, research from job search site Indeed suggests U.S. President Donald Trump may be helping to slow that trend, by making America a less attractive place for Canadians.
In a new analysis of its traffic, Indeed found a 36-per-cent drop in the number of job searches in Canada for U.S. positions. U.S. jobs accounted for 1.9 per cent of all Canadian job searches in the second quarter of 2019, down from 2.9 per cent in mid-2016, before Trump’s electoral college victory.
Watch: Canada’s most in-demand jobs for 2019. Story continues below.
But the trend doesn’t seem to be running the other way, Indeed said. While there has been a spike in interest in Canadian tech jobs from abroad, that interest isn’t coming from the U.S.
“We found that aside from a brief spike in the few months following the 2016 election, the share of clicks on Canadian tech job postings coming from the U.S. has been fairly stable in recent years,” Indeed chief economist Brendon Bernard said in an email to HuffPost Canada.
In a report issued earlier this year, Indeed found there was a 58-per-cent spike in foreign interest in Canadian tech jobs, but that was largely due to a rise in interest in India.
And that, in turn, may have to do with concerns that the Trump administration is making it harder for skilled tech workers from the developed world to land the H1-B visa that U.S. tech companies rely on for their hiring needs. The U.S. issues seven out of every 10 of these visas to Indian citizens.
But the Indeed report is careful to note that the spectre of Donald Trump isn’t necessarily the only thing keeping Canadians from moving to the U.S. these days. Canada’s very strong job growth over the past few years may also be contributing, as it makes a move to the U.S. less attractive to job-seekers.
Canada is seeing accelerating wage growth, with payroll earnings up 3.4 per cent in May, compared to a year earlier, Statistics Canada reported on Thursday. There have only been two months in the past five years that have seen stronger wage growth.
Brain drain lingers in tech, academia
Despite the drop, there is still plenty of interest among Canadians, particularly in certain high-skilled fields known to have higher wages south of the border.
“Many of these jobs are in fields considered part of the ‘knowledge economy,’ including academia, science, and tech,” Indeed noted.
Toronto’s has been the top tech job creation centre in North America recently, while Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver all rank among the top 25 tech job markets, according to research from commercial realtor CBRE. But Canadian tech jobs still offer much lower salaries than similar jobs in the U.S.
For some fields, interest in the U.S. remains very high. Twenty-five per cent of searches for “assistant professor” and “postdoctoral fellow” were for U.S. jobs, while 12 per cent of searches for “scientist” and 11 per cent of searches for “intern” were for U.S. jobs, Indeed found.