Job vacancies

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Three-month average ending in September 2011

Canadian businesses had, on average, 248,000 job vacancies in the three month period ending in September. For all sectors combined, the ratio of unemployment to job vacancies was 3.3. In other words, there were 3.3 unemployed people in Canada for every job vacancy.

Among the 10 largest industrial sectors, educational services had the highest ratio of unemployment to vacancies in September, with 10.0 unemployed people per job vacancy. Construction was next, with a ratio of 5.1.

Wholesale trade, and health care and social assistance had the lowest ratios, both 1.4.

Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, 10 largest industrial sectors, September 2011

Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, 10 largest industrial sectors, September 2011

Chart description: Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, 10 largest industrial sectors, September 2011

Job vacancy rates highest in Prairie provinces

The job vacancy rate is defined as the number of vacant positions divided by total labour demand, that is, vacant positions plus payroll employment. In the three months ending in September, the national job vacancy rate was 1.7%.

The highest vacancy rates were in Saskatchewan and Alberta (both 2.6%). Prince Edward Island (1.2%) had the lowest vacancy rate.

Among the 10 largest industrial sectors, the highest rate of job vacancy was in administrative and support services (2.6%, with 20,000 vacancies), followed closely by professional, scientific and technical services (2.5%, with 20,000 vacancies). The lowest vacancy rate was in educational services (1.1%, with 10,000 vacancies).

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

Payroll employment growth in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction has been notable since late 2009. Although employment growth has leveled off in recent months, this sector has been the fastest-growing of all since July 2010.

Note to readers

Data on job vacancies were collected through the monthly Business Payroll Survey (BPS). Starting with the January 2011 reference month, two questions were added to the BPS, which is the survey portion of the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours. These questions were: Did you have any vacant positions on the last business day of the month, and how many?

Changes in job vacancy rates from one period to the next are not adjusted for seasonality, and therefore should be interpreted with caution.

All data are based on three-month moving averages. For example, data for September are based on an average of the data from July, August and September.

The target population is the same as that of the BPS and comprises all employers in Canada, except those primarily involved in agriculture; fishing and trapping; private household services; religious organizations; the military personnel of the defence services; and federal, provincial and territorial public administration.

Funding for development and initial collection of data on job vacancy came from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.


Job vacancy / vacant position: A position is considered "vacant" if it meets all three of the following conditions: a specific position exists, work could start within 30 days, and the employer is actively seeking employees from outside the organization to fill the position.

Labour demand: Total labour demand is the sum of met (total payroll employment) and unmet (vacant positions) labour demand.

Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio: This is the ratio of unemployed people who last worked within the previous 12 months to job vacancies. For the unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio by sector, the sector in which the unemployed person last worked is used. This does not imply that they continued to look for work in that sector.

Ten largest industrial sectors: The 10 sectors with the largest levels of payroll employment for which we have publishable job vacancy data. Because of the exclusion of federal, provincial and territorial governments from the public administration sector, it is not included among the 10 largest sectors.

The long-term employment growth trend in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction is reflected in its overall labour demand. In September, this sector reported the highest vacancy rate, at 4.0%, more than twice the rate of all sectors combined and accounting for nearly 9,000 vacancies in this sector.

As well, among all sectors, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction had the lowest unemployment-to-job vacancy ratio in September, with 1.1 unemployed people per job vacancy.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2612.

Data on job vacancies for the three month average ending in December 2011 will be released on March 21.

For more information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116;, Communications Division.

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jason Gilmore (613-951-7118), Labour Statistics Division.