Lacklustre Alberta Job Market Persists in Q1 of 2016

Lacklustre Alberta Job Market Persists in Q1 of 2016

Number of unfilled positions in Alberta’s job market half that of booming past

Toronto/Calgary – The national private sector job vacancy declined 0.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest Help Wanted report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s (CFIB).  The 2.4 per cent national vacancy rate among full-time and temporary jobs accounts for roughly 301,000 positions across Canada, including 30,200 in Alberta.

“The vacancy rates in the prairies are the lowest in the country – a complete reversal of what we saw just before the oil shock at the end of 2014, when they were the highest,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB chief economist.  “Only 1.9 per cent of jobs in Alberta and Manitoba are vacant, while Saskatchewan’s rate is slightly higher at 2.0 per cent.”

Alberta’s vacancy rate softened in the first quarter of 2016 with ten thousand fewer positions available this quarter compared to the last.  A significant shift in the job market in Alberta occurred since Q1 of 2014, when the job vacancy rate was 3.9 per cent and 63,300 positions went unfilled.

“It is no surprise that with the nature of Alberta’s fragile job market, half the number of positions are available compared to when our economy was red hot.  One-third of Alberta entrepreneurs are unfortunately in the tough spot of having to cut back on staff.  Vacancies still persist in sectors such as agriculture and in local small businesses with fewer than four employees,” said Amber Ruddy, CFIB’s Alberta Director.

Among industries, vacancy rates rose in the agriculture, information and healthcare sectors, and notably declined in the resources, manufacturing, transport, hospitality and personal services sectors.  Rates in micro-businesses are double those in larger enterprises, therefore sectors with high proportions of micro-businesses tend to have higher vacancy rates overall.

The survey also found a continuing clear relationship between vacancies and wages.  Businesses with at least one vacancy reported a planned average organization-wide wage increase of 1.7 per cent in the first quarter, while those fully staffed reported increases of 1.1 per cent.


CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta.