A Closer Look

Vacancies and Unemployment in Canada – About 2/3 of job vacancies require no more than a high school education, while nearly 1/2 of unemployed persons have a postsecondary education

This study provides additional insight into labour demand and supply based on the joint availability of job vacancy and unemployment data over the past two years (2015 and 2016). Specifically, it uses data from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) and Labour Force Survey (LFS) to answer the following questions: To what extent are job vacancies and unemployment related? What can the unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio tell us? To what extent do occupations differ in their relative degree of being slack (more workers than jobs) or tight (more jobs than workers)? How does the unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratio differ by education level?

  • In 2015/2016, there were 3.4 unemployed persons per job vacancy in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador (8.2) had the highest ratio, while British Columbia had the lowest ratio (2.2).
  • In 2015/2016, sales and service occupations accounted for a disproportionately high number of job vacancies (37%) and a high number of unemployed persons with recent work experience (29%).
    The labour market was the tightest for health occupations.  There were 0.7 unemployed health workers for each job vacancy.
  • Conversely, there were about 3.5 unemployed workers for each job vacancy for trades, transport and equipment operators, which suggests a relatively slack labour market for these occupations.
  • About two-thirds of job vacancies require no more than a high school education, while nearly one-half (49%) of unemployed persons have a postsecondary education.

There are more job vacancies than unemployed persons in health occupations in all provinces

This section reports differences in the ratio of the unemployed to job vacancies by occupation group. Occupations are grouped according to the work usually performed as determined by the tasks, duties and responsibilities of the occupation.

The LFS collects information on the occupation of the previous job held during the past year for individuals who did not have a job during the reference week. Currently unemployed persons who held a job in the past year represent about 58% of the total unemployed population. As such, they may not represent the experience of all unemployed persons in the Canadian labour market. In addition, these unemployed persons may find it easier to secure future employment given that they have recent and relevant work experience in the occupation.

Since currently unemployed persons who held a job in the past year are a subset of total unemployment and holding the number of job vacancies constant, the ratio of unemployed persons per job vacancy is smaller than previously reported. Overall, there are 2.0 unemployed persons who held a job during the past year per job vacancy (compared with 3.4 unemployed persons per job vacancy). The ratios of unemployed persons who held a job in the past year to job vacancies are shown for each major occupation group in Chart 3.

About two-thirds of job vacancies require no more than a high school education, but nearly one-half (49%) of the unemployed have a postsecondary education

The ratio of unemployed persons to job vacancies falls as education levels increase. Over one-third of all job vacancies require no minimum level of education. These jobs are available to all unemployed persons, regardless of their education level. As such, there are potentially 8.7 unemployed persons competing for each job vacancy that requires no minimum level of education (Chart 4).

About two-thirds of job vacancies require no more than a high school education, but nearly one-half (49%) of the unemployed have a postsecondary education. These results reflect the fact that job vacancies are more likely to demand lower skills than those possessed by the unemployed population. Again, this may be partially attributable to high worker turnover and the relatively large number of job vacancies in low-skilled jobs. It may also be that jobs requiring a higher level of education are more likely to be advertised internally within firms, or that these jobs do not necessarily meet the requirement that work must begin within 30 days.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Linking labour demand and labour supply: Job vacancies and the unemployed

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