Small businesses struggle to fill jobs

December 4, 2018

Labour shortages continue to trouble small and medium-sized businesses, with the job vacancy rate rising to 3.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) report.

In total, roughly 430,000 private sector openings in Canada remained unfilled for at least four months because employers were unable to find qualified candidates for their jobs. That figure is 48,000 higher than a year earlier.

”We’re seeing the job vacancy rate rise above the records set before the 2008 financial crisis and businesses are really feeling the pressure, especially in Quebec, B.C. and Ontario,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist.

”Businesses will likely respond to these trends by investing more in capital than labour in 2019, along with redistributing wages to key roles in the company.”

Employers with at least one vacant post experienced more pressure to increase wages, expecting to push average organization-wide wage levels up by 2.6 per cent, compared to an average 1.7 per cent gain planned by businesses without any job openings.

Quebec continues to lead the country with the tightest labour market, at a 4.1 per cent vacancy rate. British Columbia maintained its 3.7 per cent vacancy rate, while Ontario experienced a slight increase to 3.3 per cent. Nova Scotia and Alberta also saw increases to 2.6 per cent, while New Brunswick (2.7 per cent) and Manitoba (2.6 per cent) held steady. Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador trailed the rest of the country at 2 per cent, 1.5 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

Vacancy rates increased in professional services, construction, agriculture and oil and gas, but remained unchanged in other sectors.