Canadian businesses reported 468,000 job vacancies in the

Canadian businesses reported 468,000 job vacancies in the third quarter, up 62,000 (+15.1%) from the third quarter of 2016. The overall job vacancy rate increased 0.3 percentage points to 2.9% in the quarter.

The job vacancy rate represents the number of job vacancies expressed as a percentage of labour demand; that is, the sum of all occupied and vacant jobs.

Vacancies for permanent positions accounted for 80.2% of all job vacancies in the third quarter, up from 78.5% the same quarter a year earlier.

Year-over-year change in the number of job vacancies

This was the fourth consecutive quarter with year-over-year increases in both the number of job vacancies and the job vacancy rate. As in the second quarter of 2017, year-over-year increases in job vacancies were broadly based across the provinces, industrial sectors and occupations.

Compared with the second quarter of 2017, the number of job vacancies (unadjusted for seasonality) in Canada increased by 1.6%, while the job vacancy rate was unchanged, as payroll employment also rose. By comparison, the number of job vacancies declined between the same quarters in 2015 while it had gone up between the same quarters in 2016.

Quebec and British Columbia leading growth in job vacancies

Compared with the same quarter a year earlier, the number of job vacancies in the third quarter of 2017 increased in nine provinces, led by Quebec and British Columbia, while job vacancies fell in Newfoundland and Labrador. In the territories, vacancies rose in Yukon, while they were little changed in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Similar changes were observed for the job vacancy rate across provinces and territories.

Employers in Quebec reported 87,000 job vacancies in the third quarter, up 21,000 (+30.6%) from the same quarter a year earlier. At the same time, the job vacancy rate rose by 0.6 percentage points to 2.5%, the largest year-over-year increase for this province since the data became available in 2015. Growth in job vacancies was widespread across sectors, led by manufacturing. Job vacancies increased in all areas, with a notable rise in the economic region (ER) of the Capitale-Nationale, which includes Québec City, followed by Montréal.

Number of job vacancies in the second and third quarters of 2015, 2016 and 2017

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), employment in Quebec grew by 2.2% between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017. This compares with 2.0% growth nationally. At the same time, the unemployment rate fell from 7.0% to 6.0% as fewer people searched for work. Over the same period, the ratio of the number of unemployed to the number of job vacancies declined in Quebec, suggesting a relative tightening of the labour market.

In British Columbia, job vacancies continued to increase in the third quarter, rising by 16,000 (+20.2%) on a year-over-year basis. The job vacancy rate also increased to 4.2% in the third quarter, up from 3.6% the same quarter a year earlier and the highest rate in the country. The largest rise in vacancies was in transportation and warehousing, followed by accommodation and food services. British Columbia had the lowest unemployment-to-vacancy ratio among the provinces.

Change in the number of job vacancies between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2017, by province and territory

There were 11,000 (+6.1%) more vacancies in Ontario in the third quarter compared with the same quarter a year earlier. Over the same period, the job vacancy rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 3.0%. Job vacancies rose notably in health care and social assistance as well as in manufacturing. In contrast, vacancies fell in professional, scientific and technical services. Within the province, job vacancies increased the most in the ERs of Hamilton¿Niagara Peninsula and Kitchener¿Waterloo¿Barrie. Job vacancies in Toronto were little changed following four consecutive quarters of year-over-year increases.

The number of job vacancies in Alberta rose by 9,400 (+21.3%) in the third quarter and the job vacancy rate was up by 0.4 percentage points on a year-over-year basis to 2.7%. The number of job vacancies went up in a majority of the 20 industrial sectors, with the largest increases in construction, transportation and warehousing, as well as in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction. Job vacancies rose throughout the province, except in the economic region of Edmonton, where they were little changed.

Employers in Newfoundland and Labrador reported 500 (-12.9%) fewer vacancies in the third quarter compared with the same quarter a year earlier. At the same time, the job vacancy rate declined by 0.3 percentage points to 1.6%, the lowest rate in the country. Over the same period, the LFS showed that the unemployment rate rose from 13.0% to 15.2%. Job vacancies decreased in several sectors, including health care and social assistance.

Jean Louis Racine

jeanlouis@racine-legal.com