indicatorThe Twenty-Four

Job vacancies higher than before the pandemic

The job vacancy rate in Alberta went from around 2.5% before the pandemic to 4.3% as of the last quarter of 2021

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 29 April 2022 1 min read

There will always be job vacancies and unemployment at the same time because a) it takes time to match up job openings with job candidates; b) it can be a challenge to find candidates with the right skills; and c) the jobs on offer might not appeal to job seekers because they are, for example, low-paying, dangerous, boring, far away from home or incompatible with family responsibilities such as looking after young children.

So while the mere fact of job vacancies doesn’t tell us much, changes in the vacancy rate* over time suggest that something is up. This is the case both here in Alberta and in Canada as a whole.

Over the four years leading up to the pandemic, Alberta’s job vacancy rate averaged 2.5%. The national rate was a little higher at about 2.9%.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter of 2021 and the vacancy rate was up to 4.3% in Alberta and 5.3% in Canada.

The increase is attributable to a combination of employers looking to hire more people in response to the economic recovery, fewer workers flowing in from outside Canada and the skills shortages and shifting priorities of Canadian workers noted above. The exact contribution of each factor is difficult to determine, but there is evidence that skills shortages have, and will, get worse due to the aging of the population and that the pandemic spurred more Canadians to reevaluate their career path.

During the fourth quarter of 2021 in Alberta, the job vacancy rate was highest in the accommodation and food services sector at 8.3% and lowest in the educational services sector at 1.4%.

*The job vacancy rate is the number of job vacancies expressed as a percentage of labour demand; that is, all occupied and vacant jobs.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The highest-paid player in the NHL is Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers at US$15 million (before escrow) for the 2021-22 season.

Today’s trivia question: How high did Canada’s unemployment rate get during the Great Depression?

The job vacancy rate in Alberta increased during the pandemic

The job vacancy rate in Alberta increased during the pandemic

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