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Job vacancies hit a record high in the second quarter, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The national statistical agency reported that there were 731,900 unfilled jobs in the second quarter, up by 25.8% from the same period in 2019 (data collection was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic).

The rise in vacancies was led by increases in Quebec (up by 38.3%) and Ontario (up by 24.1%), although vacancies increased in all provinces, StatsCan noted.

Both the number of open jobs and the vacancy rate (4.6%) reached record levels in the quarter amid public health restrictions.

The latest increase in vacancies was led by the healthcare and social assistance sectors, but job openings in the construction and retail sector rose notably too, StatsCan reported.

Both the manufacturing sector and the food and accommodation sectors also saw record vacancies in Q2.

Amid the labour shortage, the average hourly wage being offered for all job vacancies was up by 7.3% in the second quarter compared to 2019.

StatsCan said wages rose in all provinces except Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Looking ahead, StatsCan noted the latest labour market data showed that employment increased in July and August, but whether these additions are filling unmet labour demand remains to be seen.

Moreover, data from the survey on business conditions for the third quarter found that 8.3% of businesses expected more job vacancies over the next three months, the agency said.