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Help Wanted: Private sector job vacancies, Q2 2018

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August 2018

Ted Mallett, Vice President and Chief Economist

Canada’s private sector job vacancy rate renewed its upward course in Q2 2018. The rate now sits at 3.1 per cent, a tenth of a point above the previous two quarters and a new high for the statistic CFIB has been recording since 2004. In total, this represents just shy of 400,000 jobs left unfilled for at least four months because employers have not found suitable candidates. The previous cyclical peak had been 2.9 per cent, set in late 2007 and early 2008--before the effects of the world financial crisis sent it down to only 1.8 per cent in 2010.

The vacancy rate picture is consistent with Statistics Canada own 2.9 per cent vacancy rate estimate (for the first quarter of this year), as well as with their labour force survey data which showed that Canada's unemployment rate is at generational lows.

The labour market in Quebec, by far, is the tightest in the country, with its vacancy rate rising another 0.2 points to 3.9 per cent. Conditions are also tight in British Columbia and Ontario (3.4 and 3.0 per cent respectively), but both of those provinces saw rates drop back a bit in the second quarter. Vacancy rates in Manitoba and Nova Scotia saw further increases to 2.6 and 2.5 respectively, while New Brunswick (2.7 per cent) and Alberta (2.4 per cent) held steady. Declines were  seen in some of the provinces with weaker labour markets—Saskatchewan (1.7 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (1.5 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (1.2 per cent). 

Among broad industry groupings, the picture showed some divergence, with vacancy rates advancing in transportation, wholesale and professional services, while falling back somewhat in hospitality and enterprise services. All other sectors held steady. 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 2.7 per cent—versus an average 1.9 per cent gain planned by businesses without any vacancies.