Help Wanted: Private sector job vacancies, Q2 2016

August 2016
Ted Mallett, VP & Chief Economist

After three-straight quarterly declines, Canada's private sector job vacancy rate held steady at 2.4 per cent in the second quarter of 2016. It shows that moderate softness in Canada's overall labour markets persists. An indicator of labour market tightness, vacancies generally follow the inverse path of unemployment measures in the economy. The unemployment rate had improved by a few decimal points, not because of improved job creation, but because of contraction in the available labour force.

The national findings, however, hide some regional differences. Weakness is concentrated in the Prairie Provinces(see Figure 4). Alberta's vacancy rate fell once again in the quarter and now stands at a record low 1.5 per cent for the 12 years CFIB has been collecting the data. The rate in Saskatchewan is down to 1.8 per cent—equivalent to Prince Edward Island's. 

Vacancies in British Columbia, by comparison, reached 3.2 per cent of total jobs in Q2—the highest seen there since early 2008. Conditions in the rest of the country are relatively stable.  

Among industry groupings, only the agriculture and professional services saw an increase in vacancy rates, while notable declines were seen in resources, construction, manufacturing, transport, wholesale trade, 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 1.8 per cent in Q2 2016, while those fully staffed reported planned increases of only 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, Q2 2016

+Figure 3: Average planned wage increases, Q2 2016

+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 90th 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 2016. 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 and Wage Survey1 (JVWS) is producing vacancy rate estimates that are almost double the previous rates based on the Survey of Employment Payrolls and Hours (SEPH).

The JVWS's initial data are now 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 office payroll departments. Key remaining differences are the larger sample size of the JVWS and the seasonally adjusted nature of the CFIB data.


Previous reports:

+Help Wanted. Private sector job vacancies in Canada 2016

Q1 2016

+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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