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Hiring Demand Trends in York Region from

Research that we have done at indicates that the ongoing recession has impacted hiring demand in York Region more severely than in most other suburban GTA communities. Our research is based on analysis of hundreds of thousands of postings for jobs in various suburban GTA communities published on all major online job boards and on a number of employer web sites.

The number of postings for jobs in York Region declined by 45% Year-over-Year in the first quarter of 2009 vs. the same period of 2008, while the average decline in the 905-area (including   York region) was about 30%. Like everywhere else in the GTA, the bulk of the decline took place in the last 3 months of 2008: 2009 has followed the usual seasonal patterns so far. However, while hiring demand is no longer declining, we have yet to see clear signs of it starting to recover.

The higher-than-average decline in hiring demand in York Region is partly due to the fact that, as the economy was entering into a recession, hiring demand in the region was dominated by occupation classes that were hit more severely by the slowdown: In January 2008, hiring demand in York Region was highest for jobs in the Administrative/Legal, Help Wanted (incl. warehouse), and Retail/Services classes. In fact, the decline in the demand for these types of occupations was disproportionately high across the GTA –not only in York Region – but York Region’s job market was more dependent on demand in these occupation classes than the job markets in neighbouring regions.

Despite of the higher-than-average decline, however, York Region’s job market is still performing better   than neighbouring markets when measured using another criteria: There were approx. 8.2 working age residents for each job posting published in 2008, compared to almost 10 working age residents per job posting in Peel Region, and 15 in Durham Region.

The reliance on specific types of jobs cannot fully explain the disproportionately high severity of York Region’s downturn: For example, demand for Management jobs experienced an above-average decline of 34% in York Region, compared to an average decline of   about 15% in all of suburban GTA. Another possible explanation for the higher-than-average decline is structural: Industries that are more “sensitive” to changes in economic activity may be more prevalent in York Region than in other regions.

Unfortunately, we do not have comparative industry-specific data from all regions to prove or disprove this, but we do know that hiring demand in York Region is strongly influenced by the Retail and Wholesale industries (~26% of all job postings), and the Professional, Scientific, and Technical industry (~13% of all job postings, with a strong concentration in Markham). Manufacturing and Health Care/Social Assistance industries are also well represented, each accounting for about 10% of the total hiring demand.

We also know that the decline in York Region was not distributed evenly between the region’s cities and towns: While Markham experienced a decline of “only” 37%, Vaughan, Whitchurch-Stouffville, and Aurora all saw much more dramatic declines of over 60%. If these differences within the region can be attributed to the varying degree of diversification and structural differences in the economies of each town / city, it is fair to assume that economic structural differences between regions would have the same effect.

Indeed, a closer look reveals that, for example, the job market in Markham is quite different from Vaughan’s:

Markham’s job market is York Region region’s largest (~40% of all jobs advertised in the region) and suburban GTA’s second largest (after Mississauga). It is dominated by the Professional, Scientific, and Technical services industry, which accounted for 27% of all job postings in 2008. The Retail and Wholesale trade industries accounted for additional 22% of all job postings, and Manufacturing for another 9%.

In Vaughan, on the other hand, hiring demand is strongly influenced by the Retail and Wholesale trade industries, which accounted for 37% of all jobs posted in 2007. Manufacturers also had a significant share of the hiring demand with more than 24%.

What does this mean for the future of York Region? Once hiring demand from employers in the Retail and Professional/Scientific/Technical services industries starts recovering, York Region may outperform the neighbouring regions. In fact, there are signs that at least demand from employers in the Professional/Scientific/Technical services industries may be starting to pick up: The industry accounted for 16% of all job postings in March 2009 and more than 18% in April. Employers who were particularly active included BLJC (Brookfield LePage Johnson Controls) and Adastra Coropration. However, it is too early to say whether this trend will last.

As for the retail industry: Its hiring demand is highly dependent on the willingness of consumers to buy products from retailers. So we do not expect a significant growth in hiring demand from retailers until there are clear signs that the economy is recovering and people are starting to spend more. It is still too early to predict when this will happen.

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