Job vacancies, three-month average ending in December 2013

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Canadian businesses reported 200,000 job vacancies in December, down 21,000 compared with 12 months earlier. There were 6.3 unemployed people for every job vacancy, up from 5.7 in December 2012. The increase in the unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio was the result of fewer job vacancies, as the number of unemployed people was little changed.

Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio increases in Alberta and Saskatchewan

In Alberta, there were 2.3 unemployed people for every job vacancy, up from 1.9 in December 2012, as the number of unemployed people in the province increased. The ratio for Saskatchewan was 2.4, up from 1.8 a year earlier, as the number of vacancies fell faster than the number of unemployed people.

Chart 1 
Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, all unemployed, by province, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013
Bar clustered chart – Chart 1: Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, all unemployed, by province, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013

Chart description: Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, all unemployed, by province, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013

CSV version of chart 1

The highest ratio in December was in Prince Edward Island, at 20.2 unemployed people for every job vacancy, up from 8.1 in December 2012 (see "Data quality" in the Note to readers). This was all a result of fewer job vacancies over this period, as the number of unemployed people was essentially unchanged.

In the remaining provinces, the unemployment-to-job vacancy ratios were little changed compared with December 2012.

Ratio by sector

Sectoral analysis of the ratio of unemployed people to job vacancies is limited to those who last worked within the past 12 months, as unemployment data by sector are only available for these individuals.

Among the largest industrial sectors, construction had the highest number of unemployed people for every vacancy at 8.3 in December, unchanged from December 2012. As unemployment patterns in this industry are seasonal, the ratio tends to be highest in the winter months and lowest in the summer.

Chart 2 
Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, by largest industrial sector, unemployed people who last worked within past 12 months, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013
Bar clustered chart – Chart 2: Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, by largest industrial sector, unemployed people who last worked within past 12 months, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013

Chart description: Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio, by largest industrial sector, unemployed people who last worked within past 12 months, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013

CSV version of chart 2

Manufacturing had a ratio of 6.6 unemployed people for every vacant job in December, up from 5.0 recorded 12 months earlier, as there were fewer vacancies in this sector.

The ratio of unemployment-to-job vacancies in administrative and support services increased from 3.7 to 6.1 in the 12 months to December, all the result of fewer job vacancies in this sector.

Health care and social assistance had a ratio of 1.4 in December, the lowest of all industrial sectors. Although this ratio was little changed from 12 months earlier, there were both fewer unemployed people who last worked in this sector and fewer job vacancies in December.

There was little change in the ratio among the other large industrial sectors.

Among the smaller industrial sectors, the lone notable change was in finance and insurance, where the ratio grew from 1.7 to 3.0 over the 12-month period. This increase was the result of fewer job vacancies in this sector.

Job vacancy rates

Data from this survey are also used to calculate the job vacancy rate, which is defined as the number of vacant positions divided by total labour demand, that is, occupied positions plus vacant positions. It corresponds to the share of jobs that are unfilled out of all payroll jobs available. Higher job vacancy rates are often associated with periods of economic growth, while lower rates may be associated with periods of slower growth or economic contraction.

In December, the national job vacancy rate among Canadian businesses was 1.3%, down from 1.5% posted 12 months earlier.

Chart 3 
Job vacancy rate, by province, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013
Bar clustered chart – Chart 3: Job vacancy rate, by province, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013

Chart description: Job vacancy rate, by province, three-month average, December 2012 and December 2013

CSV version of chart 3

Provincially, the job vacancy rate decreased in Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and was little changed elsewhere.

In Prince Edward Island, the rate declined from 2.0% in December 2012 to 0.9% in December 2013. Over the same period, the job vacancy rate in Saskatchewan fell from 2.8% to 1.8%, while in Alberta, the rate was down from the 2.6% to 2.3%.

Job vacancy rates by sector

Compared with 12 months earlier, the job vacancy rate declined in five sectors.

The job vacancy rate in health care and social assistance was 1.6% in December, down from 2.1% a year earlier. The sector had 28,000 job vacancies in December.

Administrative and support services had a rate of 1.3%, down from 2.1% 12 months earlier, and there were 10,000 job vacancies.

In wholesale trade, the job vacancy rate was 1.0%, down from 1.4% in December 2012. There were 8,100 job vacancies in December 2013.

Compared with 12 months earlier, the job vacancy rate in manufacturing fell from 1.1% to 0.9% and there were 13,000 vacancies.

Finance and insurance saw its rate decline from 1.4% to 0.8% with 5,600 job vacancies in December 2013.

Note to readers

Estimates of job vacancies are collected through the monthly Business Payrolls 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?

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 defense services; and federal, provincial and territorial public administration.

With each release, estimates for the current reference month are subject to revision. Estimates have been revised for the previous month. Users are encouraged to request and use the most up-to-date estimates for each month.

Data quality

Job vacancy and unemployment estimates are based on samples, and are therefore subject to sampling variability. Estimates for geographic areas and industries with smaller numbers of vacancies or smaller unemployed populations are subject to greater sampling variability.

To address sampling variability, only differences between estimates that are statistically significant at the 68% confidence interval are discussed in this analysis.

Job vacancy, labour demand and unemployment estimates and their accompanying rates are not seasonally adjusted and should only be compared on a year-over-year basis. Given this is a new data series, trends are not yet available and, therefore, data should be interpreted with caution.

All estimates are based on three-month moving averages. For example, estimates for the current month are based on an average of the estimates from the current month and the previous two months.

Definitions

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.

Largest industrial sectors: The sectors with the largest levels of payroll employment for which we have publishable job vacancy data.

Job vacancy rate: The number of vacant positions divided by total labour demand, that is, occupied positions plus vacant positions.

Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratios

All unemployed: The unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio for all unemployed is calculated by dividing the total number of unemployed, regardless of their previous work experience, using Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, by the number of vacant positions. This ratio reflects how many unemployed individuals are available for each vacant position and is a measure of the overall labour market tightness.

By sector: For each sector, the ratio is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed who last worked in that sector in the previous 12 months, using LFS data, by the number of vacant positions in the same sector. This excludes new entrants to the labour market as well as unemployed people who had not worked during the previous 12 months. Unemployment data by sector are known only for those who worked within the previous 12 months.

Use of estimates for the last sector worked does not imply that these unemployed individuals continued to look for work in that sector. This ratio reflects how many unemployed individuals who last worked in that sector are available for each vacant position in the sector. It is a measure of the labour market tightness within that sector.

Upcoming revisions

Revised job vacancy statistics will be available with the release of the January 2014 data on April 15. This is the result of revisions to the Survey of Employment Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) data, which are the source for job vacancy statistics. With the March 31 release of the January SEPH data, SEPH is incorporating an additional method for assigning 2012 NAICS codes to businesses, as well as some historical revisions.

Available in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table284-0001 and CANSIM table284-0003.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number5202.

Job vacancies data for January will be released on April 15.

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Emmanuelle Bourbeau (613-951-3007; emmanuelle.bourbeau@statcan.gc.ca), Labour Statistics Division.