National job vacancy rate climbs in Q3 as unemployment drops

Data shows large variation in Canada, severe hiring difficulty across Alberta

Toronto/Calgary, December 16, 2014 – An estimated 322,000 private sector jobs were awaiting qualified employees in Q3, according to the latest Help Wanted report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The nationwide openings in full-, part-time and temporary positions were up by 7,000 jobs compared to Q2 2014, the largest quarterly increase measured by CFIB in the past two years.

“As the unemployment rate goes down, the job vacancy rate goes up,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “A tightening labour market means that employers have a harder time finding the qualified employees they need; especially small businesses. Generally, businesses with fewer than 20 employees are reporting vacancy rates more than double that of businesses employing 50 or more.”

On a seasonally adjusted basis, 2.7 per cent of jobs lay vacant in Canada’s private sector, a tenth of a point higher than in the second quarter. Modest increases were seen in most business size categories.

In the past five years, the vacancy rate has climbed from a low of 1.7 per cent in late 2009 and early 2010, rising to 2.6 per cent by 2012. Prior to the recession, the rate of private sector job vacancies topped out at 3.0 per cent through late 2007 and early 2008.

“Once again, CFIB’s data is based on a degree of local and regional analysis that is unmatched by Statistics Canada,” said Mallett. “By drilling down to Census Divisions within provinces – more commonly known as county level detail – we found that the lowest vacancy rates were found in Ontario’s Renfrew County and in Nova Scotia’s Colchester and Hants Counties at barely one per cent. On the other hand, job vacancy rates about six-times as high were found in Wainwright, Lloydminster, Claresholm and Cold Lake in Alberta.”

Of the 322,000 or so vacancies, just over half were in small businesses currently employing fewer than 50 people. About one-in-five vacancies were in mid-sized firms while almost one-in-four were in large enterprises with employment above 500.

There were fractional increases in unfilled jobs in oil and gas, manufacturing, transportation and financial services. Offsetting those were modestly fewer vacancies in agriculture, wholesale trade, business services and hospitality.

“Alberta’s private sector job vacancy rate remains the highest in the country and has been on a slow, steady climb. The new breakdown by census division also clearly confirms hiring difficulties have been severe for employers across most of the province for the past couple of years”, states Richard Truscott, Alberta Director for CFIB.

“Private Sector Job Vacancy Rates by Census Division, Q1 2012 to Q3 2014”
Medicine Hat (Div. 1)                      4.9%

Lethbridge (Div. 2)             4.3%

Claresholm (Div. 3)                        5.5%

Calgary (Div. 6)                  2.7%

Wainwright (Div. 7)                        6.4%

Red Deer (Div. 8)                4.8%

Lloydminster (Div. 10)       5.7%

Edmonton (Div. 11)                        3.7%

Cold Lake (Div. 12)             5.4%

Canmore (Div. 15)              4.2%

Grande Prairie (Div. 19)     5.2%

*Census Divisions with fewer than 50 responses have been excluded.

Read the full report at

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