MRO Magazine

Job vacancies across Canada analyzed in new survey

Human Resources

August 13, 2015
By Bill Roebuck

job vacancies by province1Ottawa – There were almost 400,000 job vacancies in Canada and the job vacancy rate was 2.6% in the first quarter—as indicated by a new survey conducted in early 2015 by Statistics Canada.

This is the first release of the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS). This release draws on data from the job vacancy component of this survey, with information on job vacancies by occupation, province, territory and economic region. (See the note to readers for information about this new survey and how it was conducted).

Job vacancy rates across Canada

In general, Western Canada had higher job vacancy rates than did Central and Eastern Canada. Yukon (3.9%), Alberta (3.5%), and British Columbia (3.3%) had the highest job vacancy rates, while New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (both at 1.7%) had the lowest rates for the first quarter.


The job vacancy rate refers to the share of jobs that are unfilled out of all payroll jobs available. It represents the number of job vacancies expressed as a percentage of labour demand; that is, the sum of all occupied and vacant jobs.

Among the 76 economic regions in Canada, the 10 economic regions with the highest job vacancy rates were in the western provinces or in Yukon. Looking at the 10 economic regions with the lowest job vacancy rates, seven were in Quebec.

There were exceptions to this general tendency. There were some economic regions in the western provinces that had job vacancy rates below the national average. For example, Nechako in British Columbia and Red Deer in Alberta each had a job vacancy rate of 2.3%. Conversely, the economic region of Nord-du-Québec, at 3.0%, had a job vacancy rate above the national average.

Provincial and territorial job vacancies

In line with the size of its labour market, Ontario had the largest number of job vacancies with 153,000 in the first quarter, followed by Alberta with 74,000. While Alberta accounted for 13.5% of national payroll employment, it had 18.4% of all job vacancies in Canada.

At the economic region level, 6 of the 10 regions with the highest number of job vacancies were in Ontario and Alberta while the other four were in Quebec and British Columbia.

Job vacancies by occupation

Nationally, among the 40 major occupational groups (two-digit National Occupational Classification [NOC]), the 10 groups with the most job vacancies represented about 56% of all job vacancies.

Service support and other service occupations had the most job vacancies (42,000). This occupational group includes occupations such as food counter attendants, operators and attendants in amusement, recreation and sport as well as specialized cleaners.

Service representatives and other customer and personal services occupations had the second highest number of job vacancies with 31,000.

In the first quarter, the two major occupational groups related to the trades that had among the highest number of job vacancies were industrial, electrical and construction trades (17,000) and maintenance and equipment operation trades (12,000).

Provincially, job vacancies in manufacturing tended to be concentrated in Ontario. For example, 62% of the job vacancies for assemblers in manufacturing were in this province.

As part of its mandate to provide detailed and comprehensive job vacancy information, the JVWS has job vacancy data by specific occupation. The most detailed level of occupational grouping is the unit group (or four-digit NOC).

In the first quarter, seven of the 10 occupations (four-digit NOC) with the most job vacancies were related to retail trade or accommodation and food services. The remaining three were transport truck drivers, registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, as well as general farm workers.

Full-time and part-time job vacancies

Nationally, about 72% of job vacancies were for full-time work in the first quarter. Full-time jobs are defined as those requiring 30 or more hours of work per week.

Management occupations (96%) and natural and applied sciences and related occupations (95%) were among the broad occupational categories that had the largest share of full-time job vacancies. In contrast, health occupations (45%) and sales and service occupations (54%) were among the broad occupational groups with the lowest share of full-time job vacancies.

Job vacancies by duration

As part of this survey, employers are asked how long they have been trying to fill their job vacancies. Job vacancies are broken down into three categories of vacancy duration: those unfilled after less than a month of recruitment efforts; those unfilled after one to three months; and those unfilled after more than three months or for which employers are constantly recruiting.

Nationally, health occupations, followed by trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations, and then natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations, had the highest share of job vacancies that had not been filled after more than three months of recruitment efforts or had vacancies for which employers were constantly recruiting.

In contrast, business, finance and administration occupations, management occupations as well as occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport had the lowest share of job vacancies that had not been filled after more than three months of recruitment efforts or had vacancies for which employers were constantly recruiting.

Longer job vacancy durations are sometimes used as an indicator that the labour market is tighter in an area, as it suggests employers are finding it more difficult to fill job vacancies.