In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about job vacancies and unemployment.
Over the past couple of years, Canada has experienced a tight labour market, and businesses of all sizes and industries have struggled to fill open positions. As a result, unemployment has been low and job vacancies, high. For Alberta in particular, this represents quite the turnaround from the sluggishness of 2019.
However, the most recent data show that the Albertan and Canadian labour markets have begun to cool. As businesses cut back on hiring, open postings have significantly declined. With fewer unfilled positions, unemployment has slowly started to rise.
From weakness to strength to cooling, here’s what we’ve seen in the Alberta labour market over the last couple of years:
- Pre-pandemic, the job vacancy rate (the number of open positions as a percentage of all positions) in Alberta was relatively low at 2.8% while unemployment was relatively high at 7.2%.
- Meanwhile, the job vacancy rate in Canada overall was somewhat higher (3.5%), and the unemployment rate lower (5.5%).
- As businesses became more and more eager to hire last spring, the vacancy rate rose to a peak of 5.3% in Alberta and 5.7% nation-wide. At the same time, unemployment continued to fall—to as low as 5.0% in Alberta and 4.9% in Canada.
- Since then, both markets have begun to show signs of cooling:
- As of the most recent data, the job vacancy rate in Alberta has dropped to 3.8%, and unemployment has risen somewhat to 5.7%.
- Nationally, the job vacancy rate has fallen to 3.9% while unemployment has increased to 5.5%.
Pre-pandemic, Alberta’s labour market was weaker than elsewhere in Canada. Now, Alberta’s is more or less in the same spot as the rest of Canada with a strong but cooling labour market.
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