Local employers might cringe when they hear the unemployment rate for the Red Deer region — a rock-bottom 3.3 per cent in November.
But it’s probably this area’s job vacancy rate that they can relate to most painfully. At 4.8 per cent, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report issued on Tuesday, the figure — which represents the percentage of private sector jobs sitting unfilled — is more than two percentage points higher than the national average.
“Alberta’s private sector job vacancy rate remains the highest in the country and has been on a slow, steady climb,” said Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director.
Job vacancy rates for communities across Canada were calculated by the federation during the third quarter of 2014. Vacancies were defined as job openings that had gone unfilled for at least four months because employers couldn’t find suitable workers.
“As the unemployment rate goes down, the job vacancy rate goes up,” explained Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “A tightening labour market means that employers have a harder time finding the qualified employees they need; especially small businesses.
“Generally, businesses with fewer than 20 employees are reporting vacancy rates more than double that of businesses employing 50 or more.”
The private sector job vacancy rate for Alberta communities included in the CFIB report ranged from highs of 5.7 per cent in the case of Lloydminster and 6.4 per cent for Wainwright, to 3.7 per cent and 2.7 per cent for Edmonton and Calgary respectively. Bigger cities tend to have a larger share of their employment in large enterprises, noted the report, which tend to show smaller vacancy rates.
At 3.9 per cent, the private sector job vacancy rate average for Alberta was the highest in Canada. Saskatchewan was next at 3.7 per cent, followed by British Columbian (3.0 per cent) , Manitoba (2.8 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (2.7 per cent), Quebec (2.4 per cent), Ontario (2.3 per cent), Prince Edward Island (2.1 per cent), New Brunswick (2.1 per cent) and Nova Scotia (1.9 per cent).
The national rate of 2.7 per cent, which was adjusted to allow for seasonal variations, equated to 322,200 full-time, part-time and temporary positions, said the report. The Canadian figure has been climbing since the height of the recession in 2008, when it was 1.7 per cent.
Since the previous quarter in 2014, the Canadian rate has moved up a 10th of a percentage point, or 7,000 positions.
That’s the largest quarterly increase in the past two years.