Ottawa – The Help-Wanted Index from the Conference Board of Canada came in almost flat in October 2013, edging down 0.4 points. Given that the October number follows two consecutive months of strong gains, the overall picture for the national index still suggests that employment will continue to trend upward in the coming months, but at a moderate pace. Based on the index, the labour market is expected to add only 7,000 jobs in November.
At the provincial level, almost all the indexes increased or remained flat in October. The exceptions were Quebec and New Brunswick, here the indexes declined. Quebec’s index fell 3.3 points – a third consecutive decline. And New Brunswick’s index fell 1.3 points, its first drop in five months.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s index posted the largest gain in November, up 14.1 points. In Western Canada, Alberta led the way with a gain of 7.5 points – its third consecutive increase. Manitoba’s index was up 3.2 points. (That, combined with the previous month’s gain, offset most of the losses suffered by the province’s index from April to August.)
In British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the indexes were almost flat in November, increasing by only 0.4 points and 0.3 points, respectively. Elsewhere, Nova Scotia’s index rose 4.8 points, Prince Edward Island’s was unchanged, and Ontario’s index was up 3 points—its third consecutive gain.
Job prospects for most Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs) remain positive or stable. Prospects are positive for 12 CMAs, stable for 10, and negative for 5. But, as with the job market prospects for Canada as a whole, recent changes in local help-wanted indexes suggest that any gains in employment will be modest for most CMAs.
For the second consecutive month, St. Catharines-Niagara in Ontario boasts the biggest percentage point increase in its help-wanted index, which rose 39.5 points in October. On the flip side, the biggest percentage point decline – 31.7 points – occurred in Sherbrooke, QC.
Given that St. Catharines-Niagara enjoyed back-to-back outsized gains in its help-wanted index, it should come as no surprise that the CMA’s Labour Market Tightness Indicator has been moving lower, falling to three unemployed persons per online job posting in October. However, this is still higher than the national average and much higher than the labour market tightness indicators for Saskatchewan or Alberta. In fact, the indicator sits below 1 in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, and Edmonton. In other words, there are more online job postings than unemployed persons in all four of these CMAs.