indicatorThe Twenty-Four


Job vacancy rate edges down again

By ATB Financial 20 June 2024 2 min read

The job vacancy rate* in Alberta is still higher than before the pandemic, but it has been trending lower since mid 2022.

At 3.6% in the first quarter of 2024, it is more than a percentage point lower than when it peaked in the second quarter of 2022 at 4.9%.

The rate averaged 2.7% between 2015** and 2019 before ratcheting up in 2021 and 2022 as the disruptive impact of the pandemic and subsequent recovery worked their way through the economy.

While the overall vacancy rate has moderated, it is higher in some sectors than others.

Construction is a prime example. At 5.4% in the first quarter, the sector’s vacancy rate has come down from the record-setting 6.9% seen in the fourth quarter of 2022, but it is almost two points higher than the provincial average and well above pre-pandemic levels.

That might not seem like a huge difference, but it can be a limiting factor holding up entire projects. For example, if a skilled drywaller is not available on a housing site, it means the painter can’t do their work, which means the railings for the stairs can’t be installed and so on.

Another industry that has been wrestling with a high vacancy rate is the accommodation and food services sector. Already averaging 5.1% before COVID, the vacancy rate shot up to 10.2% in the third quarter of 2021. It has since fallen to 6.9%, but this is almost double the overall average and the highest of any sector.

The influx of job seekers that has accompanied Alberta’s population boom has staved off some of the short-term impacts of hiring challenges, contributing to declines in overall vacancies. At the same time, we still see pockets of shortages in certain industries

Longer-term, an aging population and the potential for more skills mismatches (gaps between the skills employers want and the skills workers have) due to rapid technological change will likely put  upward pressure on the vacancy rate over time.

Working in the opposite direction will be that same rapid technological change as artificial intelligence and robotics could replace some of the existing need for human labour.

*All data in today’s Twenty-Four have been seasonally adjusted. The job vacancy rate is the number of vacant positions expressed as a percentage of labour demand (occupied positions and vacant positions).

**The data series available from Statistics Canada begins in the first quarter of 2015.

Answer to the previous trivia question: It’s the summer solstice in Alberta today. According to, Edmonton will experience 9 hours, 35 minutes more daylight than it did during the winter solstice.

Today’s trivia question: What city in Canada has the largest Indigenous population?

The seasonally-adjusted job vacancy rate in Alberta was 3.6% in the first quarter of 2024

The seasonally-adjusted job vacancy rate in Alberta was 3.6% in the first quarter of 2024

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