Labour market downturn expected in early 2012

For the first time in the survey’s history, human resources professionals expect to see a slowdown in hiring and in hours worked. These are the main findings of the first Flash-Emploi CRHA released by the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés in 2012. This quarterly survey, conducted in collaboration with Analysis Group, economic, financial and strategy consultants, reflects how HR professionals expect the Quebec job market to develop in the near future.

Among the 366 validated respondents surveyed, the net difference between hiring expectations, i.e. the percentage of respondents expecting their workforce to increase less the percentage of those expecting it to decrease, amounted to +22.6%. Although this figure remains positive, it is nonetheless lower than the previous quarter’s results (+30.5%) and those for the first quarter of 2011 (+42.6%).

In 2011, to counterbalance the decrease in net hiring expectations in relation to the previous quarter, an increase in hours worked was noted. However, this quarter breaks with this trend. The net difference in hours worked equals only +7.3%, 14.6 percentage points (% pts.) less than the fourth quarter of 2011 and 15.7 % pts. less than the first quarter of that same year.  

“The end of the year was problematic for organizations in terms of employment. In fact, respondents expect both a downturn in hiring and in hours worked. Naturally everyone hopes to see the situation turn around soon,” commented Pierre Emmanuel Paradis, senior economist with Analysis Group.

Similarly to the findings released in the two earlier editions of this newsletter, respondents don’t expect compensation to keep up with the high inflation rates of the last quarters of 2011. More specifically, 42.1% expect pay increases to be less than Quebec’s inflation rate (which topped 3% at the time of the survey), versus 5.8% who disagree, creating a net difference of -36.3%. However, economic forecasts for 2012, particularly by the Bank of Canada, suggest a return to an inflation rate of around 2% for 2012.

Lastly, HR managers will continue to encounter recruitment problems, as indicated by the net difference of +59.5% in this respect – the highest percentage since this survey was introduced. Although recruitment problems are shared by all economic sectors and regions, they are more serious in large corporations.  

Click here for the complete report (in French only).

For an interview with Pierre Emmanuel Paradis, please contact Justine Delisle.


The indices presented in this quarterly newsletter are based on responses to a survey conducted from December 5 to 19, 2011 among a random sample of members of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA). In all, 366 respondents participated in this survey, representing a margin of error of 5.0%, 19 times out of 20. In the case of organizations with a number of Ordre members, only the response of the main HR manager was retained. The responses were weighted according to the size of the organization and were not seasonally adjusted. The total percentages may not always equal 100% due to rounding of values. The analysis of the survey was carried out by Analysis Group, economic, financial and strategy consultants. (