Private sector still plagued by labour shortages: 433,000 jobs went unfilled in Q3 2019 | CFIB

Toronto, November 21, 2019 – Canada’s private sector job vacancy rate has stabilized but maintained its historic high of 3.2 per cent during the third quarter of 2019, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s latest Help Wanted report. In total, 433,000 private sector jobs sat vacant for at least four months— about 1,500 more than in Q2 2019 and 15,000 more than a year ago.

“This is now the fifth consecutive quarter in which we’re seeing a record high vacancy rate. The smallest of firms, those with fewer than five employees, are having the hardest time recruiting workers, with a vacancy rate as high at 5.4 per cent,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist. “Those unfilled positions add up overtime, bringing down firms’ productivity levels and ultimately their ability to be profitable and to grow.”

Employers with at least one vacant position expected to push average organization-wide wage levels up by 2.3 per cent compared to the 1.4 per cent gain planned by businesses with no vacancies.

Job vacancies by province
Quebec (4.0 per cent) and British Columbia (3.8 per cent) maintained their spots as the tightest labour markets. Ontario’s vacancy rate remained at the national average at 3.2 per cent. While resource-dependent regions like the Prairies and Newfoundland and Labrador have had lower vacancy rates over the past few years, they all saw increases this quarter. Newfoundland and Labrador’s vacancy rate (2.3 per cent) saw the biggest increase, gaining 0.2 per cent. Manitoba (2.6 per cent), Saskatchewan (2.3 per cent) and Alberta (2.2 per cent) all registered 0.1 per cent rate increases. Vacancy rates in New Brunswick (3.0 per cent) and Nova Scotia (2.4 per cent) did not register any movement last quarter. Prince Edward Island had the lowest vacancy rate at 1.9 per cent.

Provinces Vacancy rate Change Unfilled jobs
Quebec 4.0%   119,800
British Columbia 3.8%   71,400
Ontario 3.2%   168,000
New Brunswick 3.0%   7,200
Manitoba 2.6% +0.1% 11,400
Nova Scotia 2.4%   7,500
Newfoundland & Labrador 2.3% +0.2% 3,300
Saskatchewan 2.3% +0.1% 7,900
Alberta 2.2% +0.1% 35,300
Prince Edward Island 1.9%   900

Job vacancies by industry
The personal services industry, which represents businesses like hairdressers, dry cleaners and funeral services, maintained the highest vacancy rate at 4.9 per cent, with construction coming in second at 4.7 per cent. Hospitality (4.0 per cent), agriculture (3.7 per cent) and information (2.4 per cent) all experienced significant growth in vacancy rates over the past year. On the other hand, transportation (3.4 per cent), manufacturing (2.8 per cent), wholesale (2.6 per cent) and retail (2.5 per cent) have seen steady declines. The natural resources sector had the lowest vacancy rate at 1.8 per cent.

For information on the overall results by province and industry, please consult the Q3 2019 Help Wanted report.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

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