Canadians feeling jobs more secure

A new Labour Day survey suggests Canadians are more optimistic this year about their job security as well as hiring and growth prospects at their companies, and many expect a raise.

The Bank of Montreal poll finds nearly two-thirds, or 64 per cent, of respondents are comfortable with their job security.

The survey suggests 41 per cent believe their company is growing and will be hiring.

Both measures are up 13 percentage points from the number of employees who expressed confidence last Labour Day.

And 39 per cent expect a promotion or raise this year, up 11 percentage points from last year.

The results come despite lingering economic uncertainty, a still high unemployment rate and a disappointing report showing the economy shed jobs in July.

The Canadian economy shed a surprisingly steep 30,400 jobs last month, which pushed the unemployment rate up a tenth of a point to 7.3 per cent. It was the first major hit in nearly a year for what had been a mostly positive employment record.

And the economy has been growing at a rate below two per cent since last fall.

But Canadian workers are relatively well-off compared to their American and European counterparts, as the Canadian unemployment rate is one percentage point lower than in the U.S. and four percentage points lower than in the eurozone, said BMO senior economist Sal Guatieri.

"Canadian job security is fairly good, with our 7.3 per cent unemployment rate below historic norms," he said.

"Canadians should expect wages to rise modestly faster than inflation, supporting household purchasing power, with the strongest gains in Alberta and Saskatchewan," added Guatieri.

Meanwhile, 22 per cent of respondents to the BMO survey said they expect their company will be downsizing and laying off employees, while 24 per cent expressed concern about their job security.

Another one-in-five said they felt they were working in a "dead-end" job, indicating that their company would not be in a position to dole out promotions, raises or bonuses.

By region, respondents in Alberta were most optimistic, with 60 per cent feeling their employer will hire this year.

Atlantic Canadians were most likely to believe their company would lay off employees, with 28 per cent expressing that sentiment.

Earlier this week, a survey report by global business consultancy Mercer suggested non-union workers across Canada can expect wage increases of 3.2 per cent on average next year.

The projected wage increases would match actual increases in base pay reported for 2012. They would also be up slightly from the average of three per cent in 2011 and 2.9 per cent in 2010.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty became the latest official to call on Canadian businesses to invest some $525 billion of dead cash back into the economy.

Last week, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney told Canadian companies that are holding on to piles of cash because of global economic instability to give it back to their shareholders.

The bank governor was responding to a question about a previously released Canadian Labour Congress study that suggests Canadian businesses are sitting on some $500 billion in cash assets.

And Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, on a global scale, there is "money sitting on the sidelines'' that can revive the world economy.

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