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Private sector firms still facing hiring difficulties: 434,000 jobs went unfilled in Q4 2019

Toronto, February 26, 2020 – Canada’s private sector continued to face a record-high job vacancy rate of 3.2 per cent for the sixth consecutive quarter, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Help Wanted report. In total, 434,000 private sector jobs sat vacant for at least four months in the fourth quarter of 2019—2,400 more than Q3 2019 and 9,000 more than a year ago.

“Industry and geography play a role in vacancy rates, but factors like business size, growth intensions and future outlook, as well as the kinds of positions they are trying to fill are ultimately more influential,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist. “While high vacancy rates tell us that there are a lot of businesses looking to grow, they also pose additional cost and productivity pressures on those businesses that may have to forego contracts or capital investments while they try to staff up.”

Employers with at least one vacant position expected to push average organization-wide wage levels up by 2.0 per cent in Q4, compared to the 1.4 per cent increase planned by businesses with no vacancies.

Job vacancies by province
Quebec (4.1 per cent) and British Columbia (3.6 per cent) continued the trend of posting the highest vacancy rates in the country. Ontario maintained its 3.2 per cent vacancy rate along the national average and New Brunswick came in just under at 3.0 per cent. Nova Scotia (2.5 per cent) and Newfoundland & Labrador (2.4 per cent) were the only provinces to post increases, gaining 0.1 per cent each over last quarter. Vacancy rates in Manitoba (2.4 per cent), Saskatchewan (2.2 per cent), Alberta (2.1 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (1.9 per cent) did not change and remained below the national average.

Provinces Vacancy rate Change Unfilled jobs
Quebec 4.1%   123,500
British Columbia 3.6%   66,900
Ontario 3.2%   171,500
New Brunswick 3.0%   7,300
Nova Scotia 2.5% +0.1% 7,900
Manitoba 2.4%   10,600
Newfoundland & Labrador 2.4% +0.1% 3,500
Saskatchewan 2.2%   7,300
Alberta 2.1%   34,500
Prince Edward Island 1.9%   900

Job vacancies by industry
The personal services industry, which includes businesses like hairdressers, mechanics and dry cleaners, continued to post the highest vacancy rates, seeing a 0.2 per cent increase over last quarter to 5.1 per cent. Construction followed at 4.3 per cent, despite a decrease in vacancies. Hospitality (4.2 per cent), professional services (3.7 per cent) and health services (3.6 per cent) all saw increases and posted rates above the national average. The lowest vacancy rates were in the natural resources (2.0 per cent) and finance (2.3 per cent) sectors.

For information on the overall results by province and industry, please consult the Q4 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

February 26, 2020

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