Unemployment at a record low – job vacancies at a record high in Canada

Unemployment in this country continues to be at the lowest rate recorded since comparable data became available, while a new report shows that the number of jobs going unfilled is soaring. Here’s what the labour market looks like right now.

The Canadian economy saw a slight decline in the number of people working in May, however, the job losses were so small that the national unemployment rate held steady at its historic low of 5.8 per cent.

While economists had been predicting substantial gains in employment last month, Canada actually lost 7,500 positions. This is according to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada released this morning. Despite this dip in jobs, Canada has still gained 238,200 new positions over the past year.

New Brunswick fared well in May, adding 1,800 jobs. This saw the unemployment rate drop to 7.3 per cent. More people were working full time. NB actually gained 2,800 full-time jobs, but these were partially offset by losses of 1,000 part-time positions.

The agency also found that people were getting paid more. Average hourly wages have increased 3.9 per cent since this time last year. This marks the largest annual wage increase reported since April 2009. [Here are the average Canadian wages by sector and region.]

The increase in pay is likely a result of the low unemployment rate. As employers struggle to fill positions, they increase pay in order to attract workers. A report released earlier this week by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses found that the rate of job vacancies was at a historic high.

Their research found that roughly 400,000 private sector jobs have remained unfilled for at least four months. “We are still seeing a high number of job vacancies,” said Ted Mallett, Vice President and Chief Economist at CFIB. “Small businesses are feeling the pressure of prolonged job vacancies. Affected businesses are responding with wage increases or adjustments to their product lines or capital spending in some cases.”

Job Vacancies by Province

British Columbia and Quebec’s already tight labour markets both experienced vacancy gains this quarter, bringing their rates to 3.8 and 3.7 respectively. Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan’s weaker labour markets led to moderate decreases in vacancy rates.

Province Vacancy rate Unfilled jobs
New Brunswick 2.7% 6,300
Nova Scotia 2.4% 7,100
Newfoundland & Labrador 1.6% 2,400
Prince Edward Island 1.1% 500
Quebec 3.7% 103,100
Ontario 3.2% 163,000
Manitoba 2.7% 11,500
Saskatchewan 2.1% 7,200
Alberta 2.4% 38,000
British Columbia 3.8% 68,100

The sectors experiencing the most acute labour shortages right now are construction, personal services, hospitality, and transport. You can read the full report from the CFIB for details of job vacancies by industry and region. (Opens as a PDF.)

CareerBeacon has positions available right now in every sector and province across the country. Find your next great opportunity now.

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