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Where are the jobs without people in Canada's labour market?

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CANSIM Table 282-0003

Statistics Canada released their latest job vacancy data this week, giving us the three-month average ending in January 2014. There were 6.7 unemployed workers for every job vacancy, higher than the past two Januaries. Counting un(der)employed workers gives us a ratio of 14.2 un(der)employed workers for every job vacancy.

That's a lot of workers without jobs.

The higher ratio is mostly because of a fall in the number of job vacancies reported by businesses. Breaking down job vacancies by province shows that the difference between 2014 and 2013 is mostly due to a fall in the number of job vacancies in the oil-producing provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Even with the drop in job vacancies, the "have-oil" provinces have an enviable ratio of only 3 unemployed workers for every job vacancy. For the rest of Canada, there are 8.1 unemployed workers for every job vacancy, reflecting significant slack in the labour market.

When we look at the data by industry at the national level, Health Care and Social Assistance stands out as having the most job vacancies and the lowest unemployed person-to-job vacancy ratio.

Depressingly, there is also a high concentration of job vacancies in the precarious Accommodation and Food Services sector, as well as the Retail Trade sector. The mix of high-skill and low-skill industries with job vacancies is a possible sign of labour market polarization.

 

CANSIM Table 282-0003

Keep in mind that the industrial data classifies unemployed persons by the last industry they worked in, and so doesn't count new labour market entrants or re-entrants. So recent graduates or workers returning from parental or sick leave aren't counted in this table if they've been out of the labour market for over 12 months.

And, as I always point out, none of the job vacancy data takes underemployed workers into account. If we do count the more than 1.4 million underemployed workers in Canada during this period, the un(der)employment to job vacancy ratio is 14.2.

CANSIM 282-0003 plus author's calculations

For non-oil producing provinces, there are an astounding 17.2 un(der)employed workers for every job vacancy.

Here's hoping that pivot to exports and business investment that we've been waiting for eventually makes its fashionably late entrance -- the Canadian labour market could sure use some good news.

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