The combination of a growing economy and a dearth of skilled workers has created a labour shortage of approximately 361,700 jobs, notes a CFIB report, adding that’s the highest number of unfilled private sector jobs ever recorded in Canada.

The corresponding vacancy rate—the proportion of unfilled jobs relative to all jobs available in the private sector—jumped up to 2.8%, its highest point since before the 2008 recession, says CFIB.

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“Labour shortages are again becoming a major hindrance to businesses across the country, especially small firms,” says Ted Mallett, chief economist at CFIB, in a release. “We need government to take action, to find solutions for chronic shortages that inhibit a small business’s ability to take on new contracts, expand and innovate.”

Regional vacancy rates

Businesses in Canada’s three most populous provinces have the most difficult time finding suitable employees. B.C. has the highest vacancy rate (3.4%), followed by Quebec (3.1%) and Ontario (3%). All three provinces experienced rising vacancy rates in Q3 2017, as did Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Vacancy rate

Unfilled jobs

British Columbia

3.4%

60,000

Quebec

3.1%

85,000

Ontario

3.0%

149,600

New Brunswick

2.5%

5,700

Saskatchewan

2.4%

8,200

Alberta

2.2%

33,900

Manitoba

2.1%

9,400

Nova Scotia

2.1%

6,100

Newfoundland and Labrador

1.9%

2,800

Prince Edward Island

1.9%

900

Industry groupings

Among broad industry groupings, eight of 12 sectors experienced rising vacancy rates in Q3. In terms of unfilled positions, the retail (50,000 jobs), hospitality (45,900 jobs) and construction (38,000 jobs) industries are experiencing the biggest labour shortages, notes CFIB.

Read the full report.

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