Almost 300,000 unfilled jobs, many off them in manufacturing: CFIB

SMEs report Q1 vacancy rate steady at 2.5%, small companies struggling to fill positions.

May 16, 2013

High number of jobs available in manufacturing. Photo: Thinkstock

TORONTO — There are almost 300,000 unfilled private sector jobs out there and manufacturing is among the sectors with the highest number of vacancies, according to data compiled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The Toronto-based CFIB, which represents small and medium-sized businesses, reports the percentage of unfilled jobs remained steady at 2.5% in the first quarter of the year, representing approximately 295,000 full- and part-time positions.

“As the economy has improved and unemployment has come down, companies, particularly smaller companies, have struggled to fill open jobs,” says Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “While unfilled jobs may seem harmless, they represent missed opportunity for business and the economy.”

The highest vacancy rate occurs in businesses with fewer than 19 employees, while those with 500 or more employees had the lowest (1.6%).

The highest numbers of actual jobs available are in manufacturing, hospitality, retail, and construction with 30,000 to 40,000 job openings across the country.

The construction industry has the highest vacancy rate (3.6%), although that rate is dropping.

Declines are noted in oil and gas (2.4%), information arts and recreation (2.2%), retail (2%) and hospitality (2.6%). There have been modest increases in agriculture (2.9%), transportation (2.5%) and social services (2.2%).

Saskatchewan has the highest vacancy rate (3.9%), followed by Alberta (3.7%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (2.9%). BC and Quebec fall within the national average (2.5%), while while Manitoba (2.3%), Ontario (2.1%) Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (1.9%) and PEI (1.5%) fall short.

The CFIB noted the federal government’s planned changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program could make it even harder for smaller firms to find needed staff.

“Smaller businesses structurally have higher vacancy rates,” says Mallett. “The TFW program has been one way for these businesses to fill openings that they could not fill otherwise. Ironically, it was problems at larger firms that prompted changes to the program, yet it is smaller companies with legitimate challenges that will bear the brunt of the impacts.”

First quarter findings are based on 2,909 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.

Click here to read Help Wanted: Private sector job vacancies in Canada Q1 2013.