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Job seeker to Job vacancy ratio remains high

Statistics Canada has released their latest data on job vacancies today, in the Daily. In March 2012 there were 5.8 job seekers for every job vacancy in Canada, down from 6.5 in March 2011. This is mostly because there were about 57 000 fewer unemployed in March 2012 than there were in March 2011, but there were also about 19,000 more job vacancies in March 2012 too.

Provincially, the ratio varies, with as many as 16 job seekers for every vacancy in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a low of 1.8 in Alberta. The Atlantic provinces have the most job seekers per job vacancy, which is significant considering the impact that changes to EI will have on unemployed workers in Atlantic Canada.

Unemployment-to-job vacancies ratio


Three-month average ending in March 2011


Three-month average ending in March 2012





Newfoundland and Labrador



Prince Edward Island



Nova Scotia



New Brunswick


















British Columbia






Northwest Territories






This release also gives us data on the labour market tightness of sectors, telling us how many unemployed persons who last worked in a given sector there are for the number of job vacancies in that sector. Between March 2011 and March 2012 the largest increases in job vacancies were in construction (+6,400) and retail trade (+8,300). Health care and social assistance has the lowest job vacancy ratio of any sector, with only 1 unemployed person who last worked in health care and social assistance for every job vacancy.

This data is useful to counteract the oft-repeated claims of labour shortages, as Andrew does quite well here: Memo to Ministers.

There remain serious unanswered questions. The Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) asks only two questions: 1) Did you have any vacant positions on the last business day of the month, and 2) how many? There is no information on wages offered, or what efforts were made to fill these vacancies. Were employers willing to invest in workers who ‘almost’ qualified? How many applications did they receive for these vacant positions, and what kind of upgrading of skills would have been required for applicants to have been hired?

All we know is that outside of Alberta there are many, many more job seekers than there are jobs available.

Enjoy and share:


Comment from Erin Weir
Time: June 20, 2012, 10:46 pm

I commented on the Saskatchewan numbers.

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