Employment | High point of the vacancies

Canadians looking to work have never had so much choice. A record number of vacancies was reached in the first three months of 2022, exceeding the number of unemployed in Quebec.

Updated yesterday at 11:33pm.

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube
The press

According to Statistics Canada, there were 957,500 vacancies in the first quarter of 2022. In Quebec it was 224,370 while the number of unemployed was smaller at 190,000.

If we compare the situation with the first quarter of 2020, just before the pandemic mobilized the whole planet and at a time when labor shortages were widespread, the increase in the number of vacancies is phenomenal. In two years there was a national increase of 72.3%.

This upward trend goes back even further. It has been running since the first quarter of 2016. The job rate measures the number of vacancies in relation to total labor demand.

Code red in healthcare

Many Québecians have seen it for themselves, and the statistics support their observations: there is a severe shortage of health and social care workers. In addition, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

The number of vacancies in this area hit a new record high of 136,800, up 5% from the fourth quarter of 2021. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, the increase is 90.9%.

We are looking for registered nurses (+ 77.8% to 22,900), nurses and nursing assistants (+ 166% to 11,300) and nurses (+ 84.2% to 21,900).

Strong demand in construction

The construction industry is also reporting a record number of vacancies. Industry players sounded the alarm a few months ago and the statistics reflect their concerns.

In the first quarter of 2022, employers in the construction industry were actively looking to fill 81,500 vacancies, seasonally adjusted. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, this is an increase of 107%.

Manual workers (+97%; +8,800) and carpenters (+149.1%; +6,600) have been in high demand for the past two years.

New highs are also being recorded in manufacturing and retail. The largest increases were in manufacturing of metal products (+115.7%; +6,100), general stores (+102.3%; +4,700), grocery stores (+93.2%; +10,300) and food manufacturing (+81.8 %) observed. ; +6,800).


Average increase of 3%

In the face of rising job vacancies and stiff competition for talent, some employers have increased salaries.

Across all industries, wages on offer increased by 2.5% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022 and average hourly wages for all employees increased by 3.0%. A rate below the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is up 5.8% over the same period.

Over the past year, employers have continued to ease their wallets in certain sectors, notably wholesale (+9.4% to $26.10), transportation & warehousing (+8.0% to $24.25), construction (+6.6% to $27.50) and Manufacturing (+6.6% to $23.45).

By comparison, wages rose in healthcare and social assistance (+2.4% to $25.60), utilities (+1.3% to $37, $55) and education (-3.5% up $27.30) hardly or not at all.

Higher wages demanded

Statistics Canada points out that what might explain the high number of vacancies is the difference between what workers are asking for and what employers are offering.

In February and March 2022, the Labor Force Survey collected data on the minimum hourly wage that jobseekers were willing to accept for a job. In some sectors, such as retail, accommodation, hospitality and construction, workers want to be paid up to 22.4% more than the wages on offer.

In some sectors, however, the jobs are due to a shortage of skilled workers. For example, in the health and social welfare sector, average wages on offer were 8.9% higher than workers’ expected wages.

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