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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian companies are planning to hire at a slightly faster pace in the first quarter of 2014 than in the current quarter, according to data released on Tuesday that also showed construction remained the most robust industry among those surveyed.
ManpowerGroup Inc, the world's No. 3 staffing company, found in its latest quarterly national survey of more than 1,900 employers that 13 percent planned to increase their payrolls next quarter, while 8 percent expected to make staffing cuts.
The survey, which measures the difference between employers foreseeing more hiring and those planning cuts, said the net employment outlook, adjusted for seasonal variations, was 12 percent, a two percentage point increase compared with the last survey.
"Overall, definitely a solid and positive national hiring climate is projected in the upcoming quarter," said Michelle Dunnill, Manpower's Branch Manager in Toronto, Canada's most populous city. "Nationally ... many of the gains are expected to occur in the lower-paying sectors."
More than three-quarters of those surveyed also expect to maintain current staffing levels, while 1 percent of employers were uncertain about their hiring plans.
The results come after last Friday's data from Statistics Canada showed the country created 21,600 jobs in November, far more than the 12,000 expected by market analysts. It was the third straight month of moderate employment increases.
The average monthly job gain over the past six months, which is seen as a more reliable gauge of the trend, was 11,000.
Government data last week and this week showed construction intentions surged past expectations in October as permits for residential and commercial building jumped sharply from September, while new homebuilding slowed slightly, below expectations in November.
"Employers in the construction industry are again anticipating the strongest payroll gains as they have for quite some time," said Dunnill, attributing most of the strength to the commercial building sector.
Optimism in the construction sector slipped slightly, but was still the most positive among all the sectors, with a net 16 percent of employers expecting a positive hiring climate. A net 14 percent of manufacturing firms planned to add more jobs.
Regionally, Western Canada was the most optimistic about hiring in the first quarter of 2014, while Quebec employers expected limited opportunities for job hunters.
Editing by Dan Grebler