TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian companies expect to add more employees in the summer months, but the level of hiring intentions is at its weakest level in two years, according to a survey released on Tuesday by ManpowerGroup Inc (MAN.N).
The survey by the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based staffing services provider, considered a leading indicator of labor market trends, measures the difference between employers who say they will add jobs and those planning cuts.
The latest survey, conducted between April 19 and May 2 with more than 1,900 employers in Canada, revealed 23 percent of respondents said they intended to hire in the July-September quarter, while 5 percent said they would decrease payrolls.
Of the rest, 70 percent said they expected to maintain their current staffing levels and 2 percent were undecided.
Manpower Canada said that after seasonally adjusting the figures, a net 12 percent of employers surveyed plan to hire workers in the third quarter.
That is down from 13 percent in the most recent quarter and 16 percent in the third quarter of 2011. It was the survey's weakest result since the third quarter of 2010.
"When you look at the past couple of years you can see it's just flat lining with the employment outlook," said Byrne Luft, vice president of operations, staffing services for Manpower Canada.
"We typically see a higher increase going into the third quarter. This survey suggests it's going to remain flat from second quarter."
The Manpower results came on the heels of last week's Canadian jobs report that revealed a slowing in employment in May from the outsized gains recorded in March and April - the biggest two-month jump in more than 30 years. Statistics Canada data on Friday showed a negligible increase of 7,700 new jobs in May.
Byrne said the uncertainty being felt by employers, both domestically and within the global economy, has made companies "very cautious in how they're committing to employment".
The strongest job outlook was in the mining sector, where a net 23 percent of employers said they would hire workers, compared with 21 percent the previous quarter.
"Mining over the last several quarters has been really taking the charge in employment in Canada," said Byrne, adding hiring gains were greatest in Western Canada, northern Ontario and Quebec and Newfoundland.
"There's C$55 billion ($53.46 billion) of projects going on in Canada. The amount of projects there are over the next several years is massive."
That contrasted with a decline in the net employment outlook for the construction sector, where the figure fell to 8 percent for the third quarter from 13 percent the previous quarter and 18 percent a year earlier.
Editing by Peter Galloway and Jeffrey Hodgson