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Employment opportunities are posted on a bulletin board at a job fair in Toronto on April 28 2015.Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

For Canadian job seekers, the best bet for employment in the next few months may be applying for a position in a large company, in the transportation or finance sectors, somewhere in the Atlantic provinces.

That's what Canada's June-to-September employment outlook suggests, based on data compiled by Manpower Canada, a firm that conducts a quarterly survey of hiring intentions at Canadian companies. The survey poses the question "how do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the next quarter as compared to the current quarter?" and calculates the net employment outlook by taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in employment less those who anticipate a decrease.

Over all, the third-quarter survey reported a modest net employment outlook of 9 per cent, a one percentage point decrease from the previous quarter and from the same period last year. Out of the nearly 2,000 companies surveyed, 20 per cent had hiring plans, 5 per cent anticipated layoffs, 74 per cent forecast no change, while 1 per cent were unsure. The 9 per cent is a seasonally adjusted number.

"It's certainly a mild hiring climate, but it's not a negative," said Michelle Dunnill, manager at Manpower Canada's Toronto office. "Twenty per cent is a hopeful number, and hiring managers are feeling less cautious with regards to hiring right now."

Nationally, the outlook has swung over the past five years from a low of 8 per cent to a high of 16 per cent. Within individual sectors, the hiring environment tends to vary from a low of 3 per cent to an upbeat 19 per cent.

Anticipated staffing was highest in Atlantic Canada, for medium to large companies, in the transportation and public utilities, finance, insurance and real estate sectors.

The Maritimes saw a surge in anticipated hiring in the first quarter of this year and has kept pace since then at 14 per cent – Fredericton had most positive outlook in the country at 28 per cent.

"There are a couple of major projects under way in the Atlantic provinces. It may not have a direct effect on just Q3 numbers, but it definitely affects employment here in the long term," said Glenn Davis, vice president of policy at the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce. He referred to major projects in a list compiled by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, for which spending will total $13.3-billion this year. These include the Hebron oil project, Muskrat Falls, and the Maritime Link electricity projects.

The hiring outlook in Eastern Canada is offset by a lower one in Western Canada, which enjoyed a double-digit outlook until this year. As expected, the effect of lower oil prices has directly impeded potential employment, with Western Canada now at its weakest hiring pace since the fourth quarter of 2009, and the employment outlook half of what it was the same period last year.

In addition to the transportation and finance industries showing positive hiring forecasts, services and retail trade also showed fair prospects, a trend in 2015. Manufacturing, on the other hand, is registering a low outlook – perhaps surprising considering the now very competitive Canadian dollar and its potential to boost exports, as well as the unexpected gift of 21,500 manufacturing jobs added just last month, according to Statistics Canada's May labour force survey.

"Employment in manufacturing has been on a steady decline, so we don't want to infer from just one month that it's going to come roaring back," said Mike Holden, director of policy and economics at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, an industry association.

"There are lots of factors involved with this sector. The U.S. economy is not doing nearly as well as people have expected, and that reduces the demand for Canadian goods, even if our dollar is more competitive. It also takes time to see the effect of the dollar decline," Mr. Holden added. "There's still the uncertainty in oil prices, which affects demand for manufacturing within Canada. And the industry in general just isn't as labour intensive as it used to be, so even if the sector grows it won't create as many jobs as it used to."

Globally, Canada is average when compared with the majority of the 42 countries also surveyed by Manpower, with the bulk of the countries reporting a net employment outlook somewhere between 1 to 16 per cent. The United States reported 16 per cent. Taiwan and India led the list, with 42 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively.