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Rise in Vacancies Reinforces View Canada’s Labor Market Is Tight

Mar 25, 2019, by Erik Hertzberg

Canadian companies continue to seek workers even as the economy slows.

Vacancies hovered for most of last year at the highest levels since at least early 2015, with Statistics Canada reporting Monday there were 547,770 unfilled jobs in the final three months of 2018. That’s up 17 percent from a year earlier, a sign companies aren’t winding down hiring plans.

The report adds to evidence Canada’s labor market remains tight even as the economy shows signs of weakness. Gross domestic product growth virtually stalled in the fourth quarter, but job gains remained strong over the same period, with employment climbing 98,000.

“Quarter after quarter, Canada has been posting double digit yearly percentage increases, a sign of a broad tightening,” Brendon Bernard, an economist in Toronto at jobs-listing firm Indeed, said in a phone interview. “The solid job opening numbers suggest momentum has continued.”

The numbers may also suggest the recent slowdown was confined to Canada’s energy sector, he said. “The strong labor demand is not in one pocket of the economy, it’s across a wide variety of sectors and roles,” said Bernard. Mining and oil and gas extraction was the sole sector to record declines in vacancies, Monday’s report showed.

The job vacancy rate, or the proportion of jobs available relative to total occupied and vacant jobs, rose 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier to 3.3 percent.

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