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Job mismatch: Canada sees losses – while some regions hit historically low unemployment

Labour mismatch
Peter Harris|

Statistics Canada released its Labour Force Survey for April this morning, showing that employment decreased by 29,000 last month. This leaves the overall national unemployment rate unchanged at 6.9%. This is still the lowest level of unemployment that we’ve seen since the start of the recession.

Quebec saw the biggest declines in employment as the economy of that province shed 32,000 jobs. This is similar to the trend that we are seeing in online job postings as there have been fewer job openings listed in Quebec over the past few months and a decline by 11% year-over-year.

Saskatchewan saw the greatest gains in employment last month, with 3,000 jobs being created. The unemployment rate in that province is now 3.4% – the lowest level ever recorded since records started being kept in 1976.

This historically low unemployment has created a serious labour shortage situation in Saskatchewan. And that is one of the biggest issues facing the Canadian economy: that we have areas of high unemployment where skilled workers can’t find jobs at the same time as there are regions where businesses simply can’t find the people they need to hire.

Workopolis polled Canadians about their willingness to relocate for work, and most people told us that they would not move for a job alone. The majority of respondents said they would consider moving provinces for a new opportunity if the overall quality of life in the target region was similar or better than that of their home.

This is why Workopolis has partnered with the government of Saskatchewan to dedicate a whole section of our website to informing people about not only the job opportunities in that province, but the lifestyle as well.

It has been an under-utilized strategy that is now becoming increasingly popular, and the results are undeniable: you will greatly increase your chances of securing a job by relocating from an area of high unemployment to a region with a robust job market.

Given the disparity between where most of the opportunities are right now and where many of Canada’s jobless reside, inter-provincial migration is at an all-time high. A report by the Bank of Montreal released in December showed that the highest number of Canadians in nearly 25 years are changing provinces for work – with most headed to Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Job searches on Workopolis indicate that this trend will continue. Canadians are continuing to search for jobs outside of their current province in great numbers – 10% of all job searches on Workopolis are for opportunities outside of the user’s current location. This number is much higher, averaging 60% for the Atlantic Provinces and the Territories, and much lower in Central Canada and the West.

While historically Ontario was the primary destination for out-of-province job searches, it has fallen in popularity by 20% over the past year. Remote searches for jobs in Alberta have increased by 25% over that same period.

Regardless of changes in the employment rate, Ontarians are the least likely of all Canadians to look for work outside of their home province.

Saskatchewan also grew in popularity for out-of-province job searches, largely from its immediate neighbours, Alberta, Manitoba, The Yukon and The Northwest Territories.

BMO Economics also ranked the country’s most attractive destinations for work by comparing the median income, job prospects, housing affordability and tax burden of 19 cities or regions across Canada. Again, it was mostly Western cities that came out on top.

Canada’s most attractive destinations for work and their year-over-year change in Workopolis job postings

  • Regina (+18%)
  • Calgary (-6%)
  • Edmonton (+6%)
  • Saskatoon (+25%)
  • Hamilton (+18%)

While Hamilton doesn’t have the same thriving job market as the Western cities on the list – employers are increasingly recruiting workers from this region. Workopolis saw job postings for the Hamilton area increase by 18% in 2013 over the previous year. This is the same level of increase that was seen in job advertisements for Regina, and it is only topped by Saskatoon which saw a growth of 25%.

While this month’s Labour Report isn’t what we’d like to see, the long term trends still look positive as overall more Canadians are working than at this time last year, and we’re seeing an increase in job opportunities posted online indicating further employment gains to come.