A TD Economics Special Report released on October 22nd debunked the popular economic myth spread by Minister Kenney that there are too many jobs without people. The report looks at changes in employment, unemployment, job vacancy rates, and wages. Job vacancy rates are higher for trades occupations in Western Canada, but overall job vacancy rates are low.
There is no sign of wage pressure, even in occupations with perceived shortages, which the report points out as being quite puzzling. In Saskatchewan, wages for *in demand* occupations are actually growing at a slower rate than the provincial average.
The “No Widespread Labour Shortage” line got lots of attention, but perhaps the more important finding from the report was buried. An analysis of the presence and importance of localized skills shortages is nearly impossible, given the current state of labour market information in Canada. We can analyse detailed occupational information at the national level, but that’s grossly inadequate for our needs.
Highlighting the inadequacy of current labour market information, the most recent data on job vacanciesÂ was released by Statistics Canada on the same day. It tells us that nationally there are 6.5 unemployed persons for every job vacancy (Jim Stanford and I have argued it’s more like 12 or 13Â when you take broader measures of unemployment into account). That tells us that there are a lot of people without jobs. It tells us nothing about local labour market conditions by even broad industrial categories. And since the job vacancy numbers were added onto the SEPH, it tells us nothing about occupations at any level.
Sam Boshra displays the information gap well here, where he shows a cross-tab of job vacancies by provinces and industries, with most of the data suppressed for confidentiality.
If Minister Kenney really wants to help workers and businesses identify and address skills gaps, he should work with Statistics Canada to close the labour market information gap first.