Talent Canada
Talent Canada

Features Recruitment Workforce Statistics
Canada’s private-sector job vacancy rate is at a record high: CFIB

Nearly half a million jobs sat vacant for at least four months in the fourth quarter


A help wanted sign posted at a store in downtown Toronto. Photo: Wikimedia.

Private-sector firms in Canada are struggling to find talent — as more than 434,000 jobs sat vacant for at least four months in the last quarter of 2019.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Help Wanted report found a record-high job vacancy rate of 3.2 per cent, the sixth consecutive quarter it set a record.

In real numbers, that’s 2,400 more unfilled jobs than in the third quarter of 2019 and 9,000 more than the fourth quarter of 2018.

“Industry and geography play a role in vacancy rates, but factors like business size, growth intentions 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.

Advertisment

“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.