Canada’s job vacancy rate spiked in the second half of 2014. A new in-depth survey of Canadian employers across the country reveals where the demand for workers is the greatest. (And where there’s virtually none.)

More Canadian jobs are going unfilled – waiting for qualified workers. According to a new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, an estimated 322,000 private sector jobs were awaiting qualified employees in Q3 of 2014.

This is an increase of 7,000 full-time, part-time and temporary job openings over Q2 of this year. The CFIB notes that this is the largest quarterly increase in vacancies they have seen in the past two years.

The national unemployment rate in Canada fell to 6.5% in October, marking its lowest level in six years. “As the unemployment rate goes down, the job vacancy rate goes up,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “A tightening labour market means that employers have a harder time finding the qualified employees they need; especially small businesses. Generally, businesses with fewer than 20 employees are reporting vacancy rates more than double that of businesses employing 50 or more.”

On a seasonally adjusted basis, 2.7% of jobs in Canada’s private sector were vacant in Q3.
Just over half of all the vacancies were in small businesses, currently employing fewer than 50 people. About one-in-five vacancies were in mid-sized firms, while almost one-in-four were in large enterprises with more than 500 employees.

Job vacancies by sector

Oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation and financial services all saw increases in job vacancies in the third quarter of this year.

There were slightly fewer vacancies in agriculture, wholesale trade, business services and hospitality.

However, in terms of sheer volume, the hospitality, retail, manufacturing and construction sectors have the most potential job openings. Each of these industries has 35,000 or more vacant job openings nationally.

Job vacancy rates by region

Alberta had the highest rate of unfilled jobs in the country in the third quarter of this year (3.9%). Saskatchewan came a close second with 3.7% of jobs going unfilled. The competition for workers is why these two provinces have the highest median family incomes in the country.

British Columbia’s job vacancy rate is showing the greatest upward movement, climbing to 3.0%. There are also signs that Ontario is finally seeing tightening labour markets. At 2.3%, the job vacancy rate in Canada’s largest province is at its highest level since before the recession.

The other provinces showed little change or small declines in vacancy rates. Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador and Quebec straddle the national average (2.8, 2.7 and 2.4 per cent respectively). The lowest vacancy rates are seen in the Maritimes (near 2 per cent).

At barely one per cent, the country’s lowest job vacancy rates were found in Renfrew County in Ontario and in Nova Scotia’s Colchester and Hants Counties. On the other hand, with vacancy rates about six times as high, the most open positions were found in Wainwright, Lloydminster, Claresholm and Cold Lake Alberta.

Read the full report and see the job vacancy rates for cities, towns, and regions across the country.

See also:

The hardest jobs for Canadian employers to fill in 2014
The twelve skills that Canadian employers are having the most difficulty hiring right now
Canada’s hiring projections for 2015: Where the jobs will (and won’t) be

Peter Harris
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