Job vacancies rose 22% from May to June: report

By Daniel Calabretta | August 31, 2021 | Last updated on August 31, 2021
2 min read
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Job vacancies in Canada spiked 22% between May and June to more than 800,000, a report from RBC Economics says.

The nation’s overall job-vacancy rate scaled up to 5% over that timeframe — double the level from five years earlier.

The report said this can largely be attributed to unfilled positions in the  accommodation and food services, health care, and retail services sectors.

The situation in both Quebec and British Columbia are “especially tough,” the report stated.

“Before the pandemic struck, Quebec boasted a generational low unemployment rate of 5.1%,” it said. “As virus restrictions eased and sectors re-opened this summer, these pressures returned.”

In June, Quebec recorded an overall job-vacancy rate of 5.8%. The province’s vacancy rate in accommodation and food services stood at 6.6%.

The conditions in B.C. were worse. In June, B.C. recorded an overall job-vacancy rate of 6%, including 6.7% in accommodation and food services.

Cook position postings were up 50% year-over-year in B.C., while retail salespersons was the most posted position in Quebec.

At the beginning of the pandemic, about 80% of those who were no longer working in hospitality had lost their jobs. But recently, workers have been leaving voluntarily.

In June, 60% of B.C. hospitality workers who were no longer working in the sector had voluntarily left their positions.

“Extended shutdowns in the services sector have led many workers to leave the impacted sectors,” the report stated. “Moving forward, in provinces with the highest job-vacancy levels, businesses looking to hire for lower-paid positions are likely to face significant challenges, even if they offer higher wages.”

Average weekly wages in accommodation and food services were 10% higher in June 2021 than in 2019, the report noted. However, average wages earned in the food services industry remained 57% below other service-sector jobs.

“The gap helps explain why many workers are exiting the sector, perhaps permanently,” the report said.

“Workers are now in a stronger bargaining position when it comes to negotiating higher pay or better benefits. The continuation of generous government support programs may delay this bargaining process, if prospective employees have the financial incentive to remain on the sidelines.”

High job vacancy rates may accelerate automation in the most affected industries if businesses are unable to attract workers, it said

Daniel Calabretta