Canada still has over one million job vacancies

Edana Robitaille
Published: July 31, 2022

Statistics Canada has released its monthly payroll employment, earnings, hours, and job vacancy report for May 2022. Based on the report, the number of employees in Canada receiving pay or benefits from their employer has decreased for the first time since May 2021.

The survey, compiled with data from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours, shows that as of last May, 26,000 jobs are no longer on payroll. The biggest decreases were seen in Ontario and Manitoba, which reported 30,000 and 2,500 job vacancies, respectively. British Columbia was the only province that reported an increase in payroll employees.

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Payroll employees decrease across most sectors

Some of the most significant decreases were seen in the services producing sector which reported a loss of over 17,000 jobs on payroll in areas such as educational services, healthcare, and social assistance.

There was also a significant decrease in jobs in construction across all industries in the sector. Over 17,500 jobs were lost in May, marking the first decrease since July 2021. Most construction jobs were lost in Ontario, accounting for nearly two thirds of the employment decrease in that sector. This loss is largely attributed to strikes throughout the province which caused significant delays on several projects.

Retail trade still has a higher rate of employment than 2021

Ontario also reported the country's largest decrease in employment in the retail trade sector. This marks the second month in a row of a decrease in payroll employees in retail trade professions. However, the overall current rate of employment in retail trade is still six percent higher than it was in May 2021. In contrast to Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador all reported increases in retail trade employment.

The only sector that showed growth in each province was the professional, scientific, and technical services sector, which saw a gain of over 10,000 jobs, mainly in tech occupations such as computer systems design and related services.

Average weekly earnings are up 2.5%

Despite the loss of jobs, the biggest increase in weekly earnings for May occurred in retail trade, which is up 9.3% over the same period in 2021. Wages for professional, scientific, and technical services are up 8.1%. In comparison, the biggest decrease in average weekly earnings was in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries which saw a decline of 9.7%.

The average weekly earnings for employees is up 2.5% from the April report. This is likely a result of increased wages or changes to employment for workers. The report found that the higher average is not due to an increase in hours worked, which remained the same as April at 1.5% above pre-covid levels.

This data also shows a continuation of the overall trend toward year-over-year increases. In May, New Brunswick reported the largest increase when compared to May 2021, climbing to 7.4%. This was closely followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at 5.9%. Seven other provinces also saw year-over-year increases in average wages.

Job vacancies continue to increase in the health care sector

Canada’s unemployment rate in May was a then-record low of 5.1% (it dropped further to 4.9% in June). According to the survey, the job vacancy rate in the health care and social services sectors has risen sharply to 143,000 vacancies, or 6.1%. This is a significant increase over the vacancy rate in April, which was 5.4% and 20% higher than it was in May 2021.

Both Nova Scotia and Manitoba had job vacancy rates of over 10% in May, largely within the accommodation and food services sector which reported 161,000 job vacancies. This is the thirteenth month in a row accommodation and food services has had the highest number of vacancies.

Low unemployment and high job vacancies

There are over one million vacant jobs in Canada. This is consistent with data from April but up by over 300,000 vacant positions since May 2021. The high job vacancy rate, combined with the low unemployment rate outlined by the Labour Force Survey for May 2022, points to a growing labour shortage in several sectors and an increased need for immigration in Canada as its workforce reaches retirement age. Canada’s is currently planning to invite its highest ever number of permanent residents in 2022 with a target of over 430,000. The target will continue to rise to over 450,000 in 2024.

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