Canada’s Labour Market Showing Signs Of Strength: Poll

Canadians are feeling more confident about the labour market and their wage prospects, according to a new poll by the Nanos Research Group.

The survey found that the share of workers who say switching jobs would leave them better off financially has jumped sharply since 2018. Almost two in 10 (20%) of respondents said their wages would increase if they lost their job or chose to find a new one. That’s an improvement from prior surveys, including one in December 2018, when as few as 12% said they would be able to find a job that pays more money.

The results are consistent with a strong labour market and appear to reflect confidence that the economy can sustain recent wage gains. Stronger wage expectations would be good news if they encourage labour churn, whereby workers feel free to leave their jobs to find something more suitable.

It’s a process that Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has said is worth nurturing because it’s an important source of productivity gains. In December, Poloz said labour churn has picked up recently, indicating workers have the confidence to leave their positions to find new ones.

"The average wage increase of people who switch jobs is very high, in the 10% to 12% range, because people are finding the right matches," Poloz told reporters on December 12 in Toronto.

Last year, the nation’s economy added almost 300,000 jobs, the unemployment rate hovered near four-decade lows and wages rose near their fastest pace since the last recession in 2009. The strength of the labour market, in part, allowed the Bank of Canada to keep interest rates on hold, even as its counterparts in other countries lowered rates due to slowing economic growth.