Job Vacancies

Congratulations to Statscan on the occasion of the first release from the National Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, with data for the first quarter of this year. The survey received funding from HRSDC to put some hard numbers on job vacancies, and the first tranche of data are impressively granular, providing detail on vacancies at a detailed occupational level and by economic region as well as by province. (In addition to what is published in the Daily and on CANSIM, Statscan will provide detailed tables on request.)

If you ever wanted to know how many vacancies there are for accountants or retail clerks in Winnipeg or wherever, this is the place to  go. The Survey provides information on how long vacancies have existed, and what wages were offered to fill vacant positions. (The latter data are not yet available.)

Knowledge of job vacancies is essential to good labour market policy. In addition to the information needed to select temporary workers and economic immigrants to fill bona fide shortages of Canadian workers , job vacancy data should guide government training programs and the decisions of individuals re fields of study and possible occupational futures.

The data released put some hard numbers on job vacancies for skilled workers, showing that there are a significant number of jobs sitting vacant for three months of more, likely due to lack of enough qualified workers. This seems to be the case for some skilled trades and health occupations among others.

My overall sense, however, is that many vacancies may simply reflect a reluctance on the part of employers to raise wages to fill empty positions. Fully 37% of all vacancies – 149,9880 out of 400,000 – are in the lowest paid and least skilled occupational category of sales and service workers. When we have the data it will be interesting to see the wages offered to fill these positions.

And the new data do not suggest significant overall labour shortages. The overall vacancy rate is calculated to be 2.5%, but only one half of the vacancies in the first quarter had been unfilled for more than one month. Our biggest problem by far remains a slack job market.

2 comments

  • So I was commenting online with a progressive.

    “Truly I’m far aware that we have mixed economies, and therefore how can it be unbridled capitalisms fault? You point to some bad actors but that’s not capitalism. I live in Canada with a single payer healthcare system with a much much smaller government then America. Where I live in Canada I have not seen a government regulator in years. America being largest debtor nation on earth, the largest government on earth.

    In the 1930s it was easy to blame capitalism, you had a much less regulated economy then, you had children in factories, robber barons.

    Devaluing the currency, increasing workers wages from pennies to dollars, rising wages that led rising prices, creating regulations for sick days, child labor laws, etc. People were happy. Golden years of wage led inflation and government regulation because of unions, and mainly people who lived the great depression.

    Today its 2015, and central banks were pivitol in the recovery, rich people got bailed out all for the collective good of the nation. People are unhappy watching inflation erode their ability to purchase items since their incomes do not match prices, hopefully we agree income inequality is real.

    Unlike the 1930s prices and wages and incomes are higher today because of inflation. So while you would advocate for higher wages to solve the widening gap between the rich, middle, and poor classes or for the 99%.

    I advocate for falling prices. I want to see wages and prices fall to levels not seen in decades by raising interest rates and tightening monetary policy, basically a Paul Vockler FED multiplied on steroids. No one could be a millionaire if the money supply was changed to reflect that.

    I don’t want too devalue our currencies as countries did during the great depression. If we devalue today and tomorrow and next year and the years after. I will become a millionaire eventually. If an apple costs 2 million, the poor are worse off, as it has happened historically in countries with expanding money supplies where citizens spending money in circulation chasing too few of goods.

    Finally there have not been any free markets as you cited since the 19th century if not even before then.”

  • Clearly Mr. Jackson didn’t look into the details of this survey, nor take time to read the release in any detail. There is no CANSIM data for this survey, nor will there be any forthcoming wage data for this release. There are a host of methodological issues with this survey that would be a concern to any real economist.

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