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Canada’s job vacancies rate sets new record: 435,000 jobs go unfilled in Q1 2019

Toronto, June 12, 2019 – Canada’s private sector job vacancy rate advanced again in the first quarter of the year, reaching 3.3 per cent, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous quarter, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s latest Help Wanted report. In total, 435,000 jobs sat vacant for at least four months during the first quarter of 2019.

“The national vacancy rate has been steadily climbing for the past two years and it reached another record high last quarter,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “The rate of growth is slowing compared to this time last year, but employers in Quebec, BC and Ontario are having a harder and harder time finding workers, especially in the smallest businesses.”

In most provinces, labour shortages were a bigger concern for skilled positions rather than semi-or unskilled ones. Vacancy rates exerted a strong pressure on wage levels—employers with at least one vacant position expected that they would increase average organization-wide wage levels by 2.2 per cent, compared to 1.3 per cent for those with no vacant posts.

Job vacancies by province
Quebec maintained the highest job vacancies rate in the country at 4.1 per cent, a 0.1 per cent increase over last quarter. British Columbia (3.6 per cent) and Ontario (3.3 per cent) followed, each advancing by 0.1 per cent. Vacancy rates in Saskatchewan (2.3 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (1.9 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (1.8 per cent) advanced but remained below the national average. Rates in New Brunswick (2.8 per cent) and Manitoba (2.4 per cent) remained unchanged, while those in Nova Scotia (2.3 per cent) and Alberta (2.1 per cent) fell by 0.1 per cent.

Provinces Vacancy rate Change Unfilled jobs
Quebec 4.1% +0.1% 120,800
British Columbia 3.6% +0.1% 69,400
Ontario 3.3% +0.1% 174,800
New Brunswick 2.8%   6,600
Manitoba 2.4%   10,400
Saskatchewan 2.3% +0.1% 8,000
Nova Scotia 2.3% -0.1% 7,000
Alberta 2.1% -0.1% 33,800
Newfoundland & Labrador 1.9% +0.1% 2,800
Prince Edward Island 1.8% +0.1% 900

Job vacancies by industry
Vacancy rates in construction (4.9 per cent) and personal services (4.7 per cent) outpaced all other industries and the national average. Businesses in agriculture (3.8 per cent), hospitality (3.7 per cent), professional services (3.6 per cent) and transportation (3.6 per cent) also faced tight labour markets. Overall, vacancy rates advanced in all sectors, except for manufacturing (3 per cent), oil and gas (2.3 per cent), finance (2.1 per cent) and information (1.9 per cent), which saw no change.

For information on the overall results by province and industry, please consult the Q1 2019 Help Wanted report.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
[email protected]

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at

June 12, 2019

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