High job vacancies coupled with low unemployment make for a tight labour market in Canada.
Job vacancies in Canada climbed to 957,500 in the first quarter, the highest quarterly number on record according to Statistics Canada.
The number of job vacancies has spiked by more than 72% representing about 401,900 positions compared to the first quarter of 2020. Job vacancies in Q1 2022 surpassed the previous record high numbers recorded in Q4 2021 by nearly 3%, representing 24,900 more vacant positions.
The health care and social assistance sector reached another all-time high at 136,800 vacancies. Labor shortages in this sector were high before the pandemic, but COVID-19 pushed up demand even further. Compared with the first quarter of 2020, vacancies rose nearly 91% (65,100 positions) in the first quarter of 2022.
The construction sector is also seeing record high numbers of vacancies. In Q1, Canadian construction employers were seeking to fill 81,500 vacant positions. Quarter-over-quarter, the construction sector saw an increase of over 7% (5,400 positions) from Q4, 2021.
Job vacancies are continuing on an upward trend in the manufacturing and retail trade sectors. Vacancies in manufacturing peaked at 87,400 last quarter, and retail trade employers were seeking 114,600 jobs.
There was little change in professional, scientific and technical services. Employers in this sector were looking to fill 68,800 positions, little changed from the record high reached last quarter.
Accommodation and food services had about 133,800 vacant positions in Q1. Despite the large number, it had actually decreased about 12% from the previous quarter.
On a national level, the unemployment to job vacancy ratio was 1.3 in the first quarter, down from 2.2 in the same quarter of 2020. Before the pandemic. This means the pool of unemployed workers has shrunk as job vacancies continue to grow.
The unemployment to job vacancy ratio also varied across Canadian provinces. While there was less than one unemployed person for every job vacancy in Quebec and British Columbia, there were almost four unemployed people for every vacancy in Newfoundland and Labrador. A lower ratio indicates a tighter labor market and possible labour shortages.
Canadian employers are facing significant hiring challenges. In the first quarter, there were nearly 34 newly hired employees for every 100 job vacancies. By comparison, in Q1 of last year, there were about 48 new hires for every 100 vacancies, and 82 in the first quarter of 2016 when comparable data first became available.
When looking at sectors with high demand, accommodation and food services employers hired about 23 new employees for every 100 vacancies. Health care and social assistance also hired about 23. Professional, scientific and technical services employers hired about 50.
According to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions from January 4 to February 7, recruiting skilled employees was expected to be an obstacle for nearly two-fifths of businesses, and retaining employees was expected to be an obstacle for about 30%.
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