Job vacancies remain at historic highs in Canada

Shelby Thevenot
Published: November 22, 2019

Canada’s private sector continued to experience historically high job vacancies in the third quarter of 2019, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports.

The federation's latest Help Wanted Report shows that roughly 433,000 private-sector jobs went unfulfilled in the third quarter 0f 2019, around 1,500 more than the second quarter, and 15,000 more than the same period last year.

“This is now the fifth consecutive quarter in which we’re seeing a record high vacancy rate,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist, in a statement. “The smallest of firms, those with fewer than five employees, are having the hardest time recruiting workers, with a vacancy rate as high [as] 5.4 per cent.”

Job vacancies by province

Quebec, once again, had the tightest labour market in the country with a four per cent vacancy rate. British Columbia also held its second-place position, maintaining an above-average vacancy rate of 3.8 per cent. Ontario remained at the national average of 3.2 per cent.

Vacancy rates in the Prairies and in Newfoundland and Labrador went up slightly, though they still remain under the national average.

Canada’s other provinces did not see any changes between the second and third quarter of 2019.

Job vacancies by industry

Industries with a lot of small-sized companies were shown to have higher vacancy rates compared to big-business sectors.

This trend saw vacancy rates rising in agriculture, information, and hospitality but declining in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail sectors.

The personal services industry, which represents businesses like hairdressers, dry cleaners and funeral services, maintained the highest vacancy rate at 4.9 per cent between July and October 2019.

The construction industry came in second with a 4.7 per cent vacancy rate. Hospitality (4.0 per cent), agriculture (3.7 per cent) and information (2.4 per cent) all saw significant vacancy rate increases in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, steady declines in vacancy rates are being felt in industries such as transportation (3.4 per cent), manufacturing (2.8 per cent), wholesale (2.6 per cent) and retail (2.5 per cent).

The natural resources sector had the lowest job vacancy rate at 1.8 per cent.

Vacancies have a strong influence on wages. Employers with at least one vacancy may push average organization-wide wage levels up by 2.3 per cent, whereas businesses without any job openings are expected to plan for a 1.4 per cent gain.

The most significant drivers of vacancies are future outlooks, growth intentions, business size, and firm-specific job characteristics, the CFIB says.

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