BUSINESS
06/18/2014 09:07 EDT | Updated 06/18/2014 11:59 EDT

Job Vacancy Survey Shows More Canadians Chasing After Fewer Jobs

Martin Barraud via Getty Images

It’s getting harder and harder to find a job in Canada, and even the booming west is seeing a worsening labour market, new StatsCan data shows.

There were 17 per cent fewer jobs available to Canadians in the first three months of the year than there were a year earlier, StatsCan’s latest job vacancy survey shows.

The number of people chasing after every available job in Canada has increased. There were 6.8 people looking for work per job opening in the three months ending in March, the survey found, up from 6.3 people per job a year earlier.

That ratio is near all-time highs, but the survey data only goes back to 2011, and the situation was likely worse during the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

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Best, Worst Places To Find Work

Some surprising places have seen their labour market deteriorate. Saskatchewan, which has seen its economy boom thanks to high resource prices, has seen the number of people chasing after each job nearly double in the past year. There were 3.5 people for every available job in March of this year, compared to just 1.9 a year earlier. Alberta has seen a small increase in the number of people looking for work, to 2.4 people per job compared to 2.2 people per job last year. That's the best ratio in Canada.

Meanwhile, some Atlantic provinces have seen their ratios decline, suggesting a stronger labour market. Not so in Prince Edward Island, however, where the number of job-seekers per job jumped to an astronomical 21.6 this March, up from an already high 10.3 last year.

The statistics "drum home the point that labour shortages (and perhaps even skills shortages) are quickly fading as [an economic] issue," BMO economist Doug Porter wrote in a client note.

But the data does suggest there may be localized problems. For instance, Alberta’s restaurants may be on to something when they argue they can’t survive without temporary foreign workers.

The job vacancy rate for accommodation and food industry in the province is a very high 7.6 per cent, meaning 7.6 per cent of jobs are unfilled. That would suggest a genuine labour shortage in that sector, in that province. By comparison, the vacancy rate in food and accommodation for the country as a whole is 2.7 per cent.

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