July 4, 2022

Weekly EconMinute—Labour Shortages in Alberta

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about labour shortages in Alberta.

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You’re unlikely to have a conversation with Alberta business leaders—restaurant managers, energy execs, construction firms, and the like—without veering off into the growing pain point of labour shortages.

While a couple of years ago, unemployment took centre stage as a major economic concern, now the tables have turned, and businesses are struggling to find enough people with the right skills to fill their many job openings.

This is an issue that has proven to be far-reaching and consequential. For instance, McDonald’s recently took steps to simplify their operation by culling their menu back to the basics to save on time and cooks while other businesses have relaxed degree requirements.

But how widespread is the issue in Alberta? In our Business Expectations Survey of member CEOs across Alberta, we asked: does your firm face labour shortages that restrict your ability to meet demand? Here is what we found:

  • In our first survey conducted in October of 2020, just 21% of respondents reported that labour shortages limited their ability to meet demand.
  • As of the latest survey conducted at the end of June, that proportion has flipped on its head: 78% say that it is now a problem, while just 22% say that it is not.
  • Other data from Statistics Canada such as job vacancy rates (the number of job openings as a percent of total jobs, filled and unfilled) suggest labour shortages are not unique in terms of region or industry:
  • They are a growing issue across all provinces.
  • They are a growing issue across all industries (all industries have seen an increase in vacancy rates of 25% or more).


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