Positive hiring intentions persist among Canadian firms. Labour shortages intensified in 2018 with the unemployment rate falling to a 44-year low of 5.6 percent to end the year, creating challenges for employers to staff open positions with qualified talent. Firms remain optimistic entering 2019, with widespread plans to increase investment into machinery and equipment and boost payrolls. Companies are finding that they need to take creative measures in the more competitive hiring climate, expanding recruiting efforts that target new graduates and immigrants or offering enhanced incentive packages. On top of a healthy job market, businesses welcomed clarity on trade policy at the end of 2018 in the form of the Canada United States Mexico Agreement, an update to the 24-year-old trade rules in NAFTA that will be phased in over several years starting in 2020.