The Bank of Canada sign is shown in Ottawa on Monday May 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Hiring intentions hit all-time high in Bank of Canada business outlook survey

Hiring intentions hit all-time high in Bank of Canada business outlook survey

OTTAWA — Hiring intentions among businesses have hit an all-time high and workers’ confidence in landing a job has rebounded nearly to pre-pandemic levels as the country looks to a summer rebound from the pandemic, the Bank of Canada says.

The business outlook survey showed most businesses across the country and sectors plan to hire over the next 12 months as they foresee faster sales growth as restrictions loosen.

However, the survey notes that some businesses in high-contact service sectors like restaurants don’t expect a return to their pre-pandemic staffing levels for at least the next 12 months.

The central bank’s survey of consumer expectations said nearly half of respondents who lost hours or income because of the pandemic reported having a harder time finding work in their field now than a year ago. As well, two-fifths of respondents to the consumer survey don’t expect a quick return to a normal work schedule.

The central bank suggested the positive results from the quarterly survey, taken in May, reflect the pace of vaccinations and economic reopening, but also underline an uneven path out of the pandemic for the country’s labour market.

“Given the timing of the survey, this report doesn’t capture all the positive sentiment heading into the summer, but it does provide a preview of what’s to come when the economy is able to more fully reopen and high-touch service activity resumes,” BMO economist Shelly Kaushik wrote in a note.

The number of businesses reporting improved indicators of future sales hit a record high in the quarterly survey, which the central bank suggested was another “concrete signal of a broad-based strengthening in demand relative to a year ago.”

Standing in the way of meeting those future demands is finding enough employees, including skilled or specialized workers. The central bank also said some firms worry about labour shortages limiting their ability to meet current demand.

“At the time of the survey in mid-to-late May, labour shortages remained modest, although the intensity of those shortages had increased,” said CIBC senior economist Royce Mendes.

“There might, however, be more labour shortages now that the reopening is firmly underway and hiring across high-contact services sectors is increasing.”