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Help Wanted: Private sector job vacancies, Q1 2018

June 2018
Ted Mallett, Vice-President and Chief Economist

Canada’s private sector job vacancy rate sat unchanged in the first quarter of 2018, after having risen strongly through 2017. The latest estimate of 3.0 per cent is the same as the previous quarter, but still up measurably from the 2.6 per cent in the opening quarter of 2017. In aggregate, this represents about 407,000 jobs left unfilled for at least four months because employers have not found suitable candidates.

The vacancy rate picture is consistent with Statistics Canada own 2.9 per cent vacancy rate estimate (for the fourth quarter of last year), as well as with their labour force survey data which showed that Canada's unemployment rate held firm in the latest two quarters. 

The labour market in British Columbia and Quebec remain the tightest in the country, with vacancy rates rising further to 3.8 and 3.7 per cent respectively. We also saw small gains in Ontario (3.2 per cent) and Manitoba (2.7 per cent). Vacancy rates were unchanged in New Brunswick (2.7 per cent) as well as in Alberta and Nova Scotia (both at 2.4 per cent). Weak labour market demand appeared to loosen off a bit further in Newfoundland & Labrador (1.6 per cent), Prince Edward Island (1.1 per cent) and Saskatchewan (2.1 per cent)—each province showing a slight decrease in vacancies.

Among broad industry groupings, the picture was also pretty balanced, with increasing vacancy rates in seven sectors offset by steady or decreasing rates in six. Vacancies also continued to put pressure on wages, with employers with at least one vacancy expecting to push average organization-wide wage levels up by 3.1 per cent—versus an average 2.4 per cent gain planned by businesses without any vacancies.