Job-seekers line up for temporary work in Edmonton

The economic downturn is leading some Edmontonians to line up in the middle of the night – for the opportunity to work.

Demand has dropped so much, temporary-work office may consider layoffs of its own

The economic downturn is leading some Edmontonians to line up in the middle of the night — for the opportunity to work.

As economic woes have grown, the number of job-seekers at temporary work offices throughout the city has skyrocketed.

Garry Kuhn, 47, recently lost his job in a warehouse as a forklift operator and since then, he's been lining up for temporary work.

"Most of these temp agencies, they've nothing. You end up waiting all morning and not going out on a job," Kuhn said.

"About a year ago it was just the opposite. You'd be called up right away. So, like, this morning I've got $2.50 in my pocket so I can get a return bus fare to get home tonight, and that's it. I'm flat broke otherwise. You know, it's a bleak, bleak situation."

Kuhn said some workers are lining up at 4 a.m. to be the first in line when the office opens, but with many companies cutting back, there are fewer jobs to go around.

That's something the branch manager of Coape Staffing Network, a private employment agency that operates in Western Canada, knows all too well.

Tanya Shewchuk is spending more time on the phone these days, telling temporary workers their services are no longer required.

"[There's] definitely a downturn in business. We're definitely seeing the effects of the economy…faster than I thought it would, very fast. It has turned, I would say, in the last two months," she said.

Shewchuk said the number of employers looking for temporary workers is down, while the number of resumés crossing her desk is way up.

"We're talking to our clients, the employers, [and] they are on hiring freezes," Shewchuk said. "I would say the resumés that are coming through our door, we're up 200 per cent."

Shewchuk said the orders from employers are so slow, she may have to consider layoffs in her own office.