Hiring freeze

Red Deer employers are not in the hiring mood, says a new survey.

Red Deer employers are not in the hiring mood, says a new survey.

Only 10 per cent of employers surveyed for the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey expected to add to their payroll in the October-through-December quarter.

Twelve per cent of those surveyed anticipated cutbacks. The remaining 78 per cent hoped to maintain their current staffing levels.

“With seasonal variations removed from the data, Red Deer’s fourth-quarter net employment outlook of minus-two per cent is a two-percentage point decrease when compared to the previous quarterly outlook,” says Randy Upright, CEO of Manpower’s Alberta region in a statement.

It is also down two points from the same time last year “indicating a slow hiring pace for the upcoming months.”

The Manpower numbers did not come as a surprise to Reg Warkentin, policy and advocacy manager for Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.

“Generally speaking, what we’re hearing is reflected in the results of the Manpower survey,” says Warkentin in an email.

As the recession drags on the effects are reverberating throughout the economy and being felt among businesses unrelated to the oil and gas sector, the most obvious early victim of low oil prices.

“Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with the slowed economy and the increased costs in the form of the minimum wage increase, higher corporate taxes (for those still turning a profit), and the impending carbon levy,” says Warkentin.

“There are only so many levers a business can pull to reduce costs, and labor costs are the big one.”

The chamber has heard of a number of oilfield equipment manufacturers which have had to slash their payroll up to 90 per cent to “keep the lights on.

“With an at-best tepid recovery projected in the oil & gas sector, Central Alberta businesses unable to diversify their revenue stream will have to keep their operations as lean as possible.”

Not all of the employment news is bad.

“Certain aspects of the hospitality and retail industry as well as agriculture are the sectors we hear are still hiring,” he says.

The chamber has also formed a partnership with Talent Pool, an employers’ resource and information hub. Six workshops are planned with the first set for Monday sept 19 at the chamber offices at 3017 Gaetz Ave. For more information go to www.reddeerchamber.com.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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