Alberta’s job vacancy rate steady in November
While the vacancy rate is lower than during the pandemic, it remains elevated
By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 29 January 2024 2 min read
Because it takes time to match job seekers with job openings, job vacancies are a normal part of the labour market and a vacancy rate (i.e. the number of job vacancies as a percentage of all occupied and vacant jobs) of zero is not realistic.
However, when the vacancy rate is higher than normal, it suggests employers can’t find the workers they need and/or that applicants do not have the right qualifications—neither of which is a good thing. A high vacancy rate can lead to stunted business growth, increased workplace stress due to staff shortages, and may be a sign of a chronic mismatch between the skills employers want and the skills workers have.
So it is a good sign that the job vacancy rate has come down in both Canada and Albert from the spikes seen during the pandemic.
Here’s the rub: while the vacancy rate is lower than during the pandemic, it remains elevated and the ongoing aging of the workforce is going to add to the problem as more older workers and their skills and experience leave the labour force. Greater implementation of artificial intelligence and other transformative technology may also increase the gap between the skills workers have and the skills employers are seeking.
With this in mind, the latest data show that the job vacancy rate in Alberta was 3.8% in November—still more than a full percentage point above the pre-pandemic average set between May 2015 (when the data series starts) and February 2020.
In terms of the number of vacancies, there were an estimated 81,605 unfilled positions in Alberta in November. The number of vacancies in the province peaked in April 2022 at 107,895.
It is a similar story nationally, but with the job vacancy rate nudging up by a tenth of a point to 3.7% in November (653,005 positions). At this level, the national rate is still well above the pre-pandemic average of 2.8%.
The vacancy rate in November was highest in B.C. at 4.2% and was lowest in P.E.I. at 2.5%. After an extended period of time below the national rate, Alberta’s rate has been higher since August.
Answer to the previous trivia question: Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2008 for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.
Today’s trivia question: When was the generative artificial intelligence chatbot known as ChatGPT launched?