Main menu:

History of RPE Thought

Posts by Tag

RSS New from the CCPA

  • Report looks at captured nature of BC’s Oil and Gas Commission August 6, 2019
    From an early stage, BC’s Oil and Gas Commission bore the hallmarks of a captured regulator. The very industry that the Commission was formed to regulate had a significant hand in its creation and, too often, the interests of the industry it regulates take precedence over the public interest. This report looks at the evolution […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Correcting the Record July 26, 2019
    Earlier this week Kris Sims and Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun. The opinion piece makes several false claims and connections regarding the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), which we would like to correct. The […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Rental Wage in Canada July 18, 2019
    Our new report maps rental affordability in neighbourhoods across Canada by calculating the “rental wage,” which is the hourly wage needed to afford an average apartment without spending more than 30% of one’s earnings.  Across all of Canada, the average wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $22.40/h, or $20.20/h for an average one […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada July 9, 2019
    CCPA senior economist David Macdonald co-authored a new report, Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada­—released by Upstream Institute in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—tracks child poverty rates using Census 2006, the 2011 National Household Survey and Census 2016. The report is available for […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Fossil-Power Top 50 launched July 3, 2019
    What do Suncor, Encana, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Fraser Institute and 46 other companies and organizations have in common? They are among the entities that make up the most influential fossil fuel industry players in Canada. Today, the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) is drawing attention to these powerful corporations and organizations with the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Progressive Bloggers


Recent Blog Posts

Posts by Author

Recent Blog Comments

The Progressive Economics Forum

Job Vacancies vs. Unemployment

Progressive economists have advocated expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to boost demand and create jobs, given the high rate of unemployment. By contrast, employers and conservative commentators complain of unfilled vacancies and labour shortages, emphasizing policies to increase labour supply and labour mobility.

Today’s new Statistics Canada survey of job vacancies sheds fresh light on this debate. The finding that “there were 3.3 unemployed people in Canada for every job vacancy” confirms that the main problem is a lack of jobs, not alleged disincentives to work or barriers to labour mobility. In other words, policymakers should focus on the demand side rather than on the supply side.

In Alberta and Saskatchewan, provinces supposedly plagued by labour shortages, there were three unemployed workers for every two vacancies. Even in mining, oil and gas – the sector with by far the highest rate of job vacancy – unemployment exceeded vacancies. These figures debunk the view that the solution is simply to prod workers to move west.

UPDATE (January 25): Quoted in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette and other newspapers. The Victoria Times Colonist had my favourite headline.

Enjoy and share:


Comment from Andrew Jackson
Time: January 24, 2012, 12:21 pm

And the numbers are an upper estimate of job vacancies in that they indicate only that employers are seeking workers. That would include those seeking new workers at below the prevailing wage.

Comment from Bill Bell
Time: January 24, 2012, 12:36 pm

FWIW, I would agree that these results indicate that more jobs are needed. However, doesn’t the pattern of numbers across industrial sectors suggest that there is something to the point that employers are trying to make? For instance, the survey says that there are ten people who would like to be employed in educational services for every vacancy. Surely this hints at oversupply; that is, there are more people trained or experienced for work in this sector that there are opportunities. But how many people contemplating a career in this sector are aware of this situation? To the extent that predictions are possible we need more and better information that individuals can use in deciding career directions.

Comment from Paul Tulloch
Time: January 24, 2012, 12:56 pm

Couple of points to guide a reaction to this new figure.

1. What is a typical measure of a tight labour market? Well traditionally a measure of above 3.0 for vacancies to Unemployment is used. So Our three month moving average of v= 248k and U= 818.4K gives us a v-u ratio of 0.3. (not sure why they published the U-V ratio)

Looking at the US for a guidepost on current and historical perspective (see link) leaves us to believe that our labour markets are very very far from being tight- which many in the right and neo con base claim is a huge problem, so much so that they convinced Stat Can that it should implement the new vacancy survey that is upcoming.

It is clear that in order to be a tight labour market you need to have a 3.0 or above V-U ratio. Potentially that is why they released the measure as a U-V ratio rather than the V-U. lol confused yet?

2. Adding onto Andrew’s comment on potential bias, we also have to consider that this estimate is only a portion of the unemployed and vacancies, as it excludes a huge part of the market, called the public sector. Which as we know, most likely has a much lower vacancy rate than what this survey uses as a population. Hence we must qualify this estimate as being biased towards the higher side of vacancies.

Bill’s point is relevant, however, we need to have the estimated measures by occupation and not by sector to make it effective in planning purposes. But that is not possible as the Census long form was well replaced! And we now have no estimates of detailed occupations that would be needed for such estimates.


Okay am I in trouble for making this comment- nothing negative here- move along. Potentially another legal threat in my mailbox from Statcan for commenting on this site?

Comment from Chris
Time: January 24, 2012, 8:35 pm

I just want to say how ecstatic I am that StatCan is finally producing another vacancies series. There are issues with it, sure. But given what there’s been to work with for the last several years, this is awesome!

Comment from Deb
Time: January 29, 2012, 6:15 pm

I know there are shortages of doctors and nurses and other such professionals, but for the average person looking for a less skilled job there is defiinitely a shortage of work.

I am looking for an entry level Clerical/Receptionist position. A large percentage of employers are requiring applicants have a university degree. They are able to hire lots of overqualified people desperately looking for work and willing to take these jobs.

Comment from richard riewer
Time: February 22, 2012, 9:49 am

To Deb,
They also want you to do the work of three people.
Several years ago I saw one ad for a clerical job that required that the candidate be able to translate in both official languages. Typist and Bilingual Translator, all for less than $12 dollars an hour. Bilingual Translators are pretty rare, and certainly should be paid more than this company was willing to pay.

Comment from Nick Falvo
Time: February 24, 2012, 9:30 pm

Outstanding blog post, Erin!

Comment from Shangey G.
Time: May 10, 2012, 4:19 pm

I just applied to a job 2 days ago in Vancouver.
They sent me an email stating over 600 people had applied for it in less than 2 days. It was for an artist/graphic design position.

I had another interview months ago, for an Art Director position, and I was told 200 people applied for it.

Both of these jobs were not low skill jobs. I have over 17 years experience. Something is going on.
2 things aren’t helping.
I recently had another interview with a gaming company, and they outsource their production to Pakistan! For hi-tech programming for their games. Our jobs are already going to other countries.
And number 2, when the government manipulates the labor market, by constantly immigrating more and more people into our country, it doesn’t help anything.

Comment from Francis Fuller
Time: May 11, 2012, 5:06 am

To add to Shangey G’s comment, I recently applied for a very low end job in Ottawa which the company had marketed in a very negative way as a low end and unrewarding grunt position and was advised that they had had over 150 applicants.

Paul Tulloch – can you contact me please. firstname-dot-lastname-that symbol-gmail-dot-com

Write a comment

Related articles