Beneath Q3’s steady job vacancy rate: BC up sharply, Alberta at record low

Toronto, December 15, 2016 – Canada’s private sector job vacancy rate held steady at 2.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest Help Wanted report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Although stable through 2016, the vacancy rate is 0.3 percentage points lower than 2014 levels—when the economy was stronger.

“These numbers show that softness in Canada’s overall labour markets persists,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB chief economist. “But as in the previous quarter, the smooth national findings mask some large movements, both up or down, by region and sector. Most of the weakness we see is concentrated in the resource provinces and in the east.” 

Alberta’s vacancy rate fell once again 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 1.7 per cent, while Prince Edward Island’s is down in similar territory (1.6 per cent).

In contrast, the vacancy rate is up sharply in British Columbia, with a gain of 0.2 points to a nation-leading 3.5 per cent—the highest seen there since early 2008. Conditions in the rest of central and eastern Canada are relatively stable, with vacancy rates ranging between 2.0 in Nova Scotia to 2.7 per cent in Ontario.

Among industry groupings, rising vacancy rates were seen in the agriculture, information, health care and professional services sectors, while declines were noted in construction, oil and gas, transportation, hospitality and personal services.

The survey also shows a continuing clear relationship between job vacancies and wages. Businesses with at least one vacancy reported planned average organization-wide wage increases of 1.9 per cent in Q3 2016, while those fully staffed reported planned increases of only 1.2 per cent.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, please contact Kiara Morrissey at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or public.affairs@cfib.ca.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.

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