Help Wanted: Private sector job vacancies, Q1 2016

June 2016
Ted Mallett, VP & Chief Economist

Canada's private sector job vacancy rate declined to 2.4 per cent in the first three months of 2016. It was the third-consecutive quarterly decline seen nationally, which largely corresponds with a softening labour market--particulary in the Prairie Provinces. In total, these represented approximately 301,000 unfilled jobs across the economy, which is down from the 330,000 vacancies counted in the final months of 2014 before the effects of the oil shock.

Vacancy rates on the prairies are now the lowest in the country--a complete reversal to what we had seen in 2014, when they had been the highest (see Figure 4). Only 1.9 per cent of jobs in Alberta and Manitoba sit vacant, while in Saskatchewan the estimate is only slightly higher at 2.0 per cent.

The nation's tighest labour market appears to be British Columbia, which saw a 2.8 per cent vacancy rate in Q1 2016--but even that was a one-tenth-point decline from the final quarter of 2015. By comparison, the rate of unfilled jobs was unchanged in all other provinces. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had similar results at 2.1 per cent, while Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario were clustered at 2.4 to 2.6 per cent.

Among industry groupings, only the agriculture, information and healthcare sectors saw an increase in vacancy rates, while notable declines were seen in resources, manufacturing, transport, hospitality and personal services (see Figure 5).

The survey also shows a continuing clear relationship between job vacancies and wages (see Figure 3). Businesses with at least one vacancy reported planned average organization-wide wage increases of 1.7 per cent in Q1 2016, while those fully staffed reported about a half-point less at 1.1 per cent.

+Figure 1: Vacancy and unemployment rates

+Figure 2: Vacancy rates by size of business

+Table 1: Private sector job vacancies by province, Q4 2015

+Figure 3: Average planned wage increases, Q4 2015

+Figure 4: Vacancy rates by province

+Figure 5: Vacancy rates by industry


Notes: methodology and data quality

The current results are based on 2,140 responses from the latest quarter. The series comes from CFIB's

Your Business Outlook Survey, which is conducted monthly with a stratified random sampling of ID-validated business owner-operator members.

On the survey, respondents provide the total number of full-time and part-time people currently employed at their business. They are also asked "How many jobs in your firm currently have been vacant for at least 4 months because you have been unable to find suitable employees?" Non-responses are treated as zero vacancies. Vacancy rates are defined as total vacancies, divided by the sum of total employment and vacancies. Data outliers are identified using regression analysis, and then dealt with by capping those vacancies at the 90 th percentile level in each business size class.

To account for small quarterly sample sizes, data for the 500+ employment size group are imputed by using the aggregate historical ratios relative to the other business size categories from 2004 to 2015. Aggregate employment and vacancies are then reweighted by province and by industry based on quarterly data from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH), subtracting out public sector employment based on CFIB’s custom tabulations from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS).

National quarterly data are seasonally adjusted and trended using x-12 methodology. To deal with occasional missing data points, provincial and industry sector data are further smoothed before seasonal adjustment, and then re-adjusted afterwards to ensure their totals add up to national figures.

Because of the use of centralized moving averages, new quarterly data may result in revisions of past estimates. For that reason, simple rule-of-thumb statistical margins of error usually reported on surveys do not apply.

Comparison with Statistics Canada’s job
vacancy estimates

Beginning in Q1 2015, Statistics Canada's new
Job Vacancy andWage Survey1 (JVWS) is
producing vacancy rate estimates that arealmost
double the previous rates based on the Survey
of Employment Payrolls and Hours (SEPH).
The JVWS's initial data arenow almost identical to
CFIB's quarterly figures, largely because they
now share closer survey methodologies.
Most significantly, Statistics Canada is
now surveying owners and business managers in branch locations who are responsible for hiring, rather than head officepayroll departments. Key remaining differences are the largersample size of the JVWS and the seasonally adjusted nature of theCFIB data.


Previous reports:

+Help Wanted. Private sector job vacancies in Canada 2015

Q4 2015

Q3 2015

Q2 2015

Q1 2015

+Help Wanted. Private sector job vacancies in Canada 2014

Q4 2014

Q3 2014

Q1 2014

+Help Wanted. Private sector job vacancies in Canada 2013

Q4 2013

Q3 2013

Q2 2013

Q1 2013

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