If there was a sure-fire way to predict Canadian job growth, we'd be set: students would know what to study, universities and colleges could plan the most suitable courses, and we'd better integrate immigrants into the work force.
There's not. Some brave economists, though, have given it their best shot, forecasting which sectors are likely to hire in the next year or two.
The predictions comes as hiring is likely to be sluggish in the coming months, held back by a combination of weak U.S. demand, a cool Canadian housing market, a strong dollar and an indebted consumer. Wage growth, meantime, will stay "unusually tepid" in an environment of high unemployment.
While job creation won't budge the jobless rate -- at 8.1 per cent -- next year, there are still pockets of the economy that will expand, says Toronto-Dominion Bank economists Derek Burleton and Shahrzad Mobasher Fard. Here are some of the areas they mention:
Manufacturing: You read that right. The sector that's shed the most amount of jobs in the past year or two is ripe for a rebound. It won't be a huge bounce, and it will vary from sector to sector, but rising profits mean 2011 and 2012 could mark the first consecutive gain in employment since before the loonie's appreciation in 2002. Within the sector, companies that supply computer and electronics are likely to fare well, along with the aerospace industry.
Primary industries: Oil and gas will expand, led by the oil sands, to supply energy-hungry emerging markets. Agriculture will rebound next year after floods damaged crops this year, and logging is also set to grow. The economists figure primary industries will contribute about three times their job share in terms of net new employment in 2011 and 2012.
Health care: Job growth in much of the public sector will lag as governments at all levels trim budgets. Health care is the exception.
Wholesale trade: Likely to grow as business equipment and related supplies sales rise.
Information and culture, professional services: These areas should expand amid increased budgets for consumer systems along with design and software.
Finance, insurance and real-estate: The bellwether for business activity is expected to show "decent but not booming job gains."
As for which sectors to veer away from -- construction, retailing hiring do not look good.