Sask. leads provinces in job vacancy rate

The Leader-Post August 23, 2013 - Saskatchewan has the highest job vacancy rate among the provinces, which translates into 13,700 unfilled private-sector jobs, according to the latest help-wanted report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

While Saskatchewan continues to have the highest provincial vacancy rate at 4.1 per cent, Alberta’s rate dipped to 3.4 but continues to be above the national average, along with Newfoundland and Labrador (at three per cent). Quebec (2.4 per cent), Manitoba (2.5 per cent) and British Columbia (2.4 per cent) were right around the average, while Ontario (2.1 per cent), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia (two per cent) and P. E. I. (at 1.8 per cent) had lower-than-average vacancy rates.

By sector, personal services (3.9) and construction (3.5) had the country’s highest vacancy rates, although both saw slight declines from the previous quarter. Health and education services (2.4) and hospitality (2.8) saw increases in their vacancy rates.

“While the overall vacancy rate dropped to 2.4 per cent, the problem continues to be most acute for smaller businesses,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “In fact, those with fewer than four employees saw an increase in their vacancy rate, while larger businesses all saw decreases.”

CFIB president Dan Kelly said small business owners may have to do more on-the-job training to improve the skill levels of new employees. “If you can’t find people with the right skills, sometimes you find people, and work on the skills,” Kelly said. “Programs like the Canada Jobs Grant have significant potential to help on the training front if they reflect the realities of running a small business.’’

The results of the CFIB’s quarterly report are based on responses from 3,526 small business owners.

Meanwhile, a Statistics Canada report on employment insurance claims shows Saskatchewan had a drop of three per cent in claims on a year-over-year basis. Saskatchewan also had the second-lowest number of regular EI beneficiaries as a percentage of the working-age population at 1.3 per cent. On a month-to-month basis, the number of regular EI beneficiaries dropped 2.4 per cent, second-best among Canadian provinces.

Economy Minister Bill Boyd said the EI report shows Saskatchewan people are benefiting from the growing economy and job growth.

But United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir said EI numbers are going down because of changes to the EI program by the federal government and that unemployment in the province actually increased in July.

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