May 2013 JVS: An alternative view

Chart 1 Job vacancies vs employment, select industries (NAICS)
Chart 1 Job vacancies vs employment, select industries (NAICS)

Sources: CANSIM Tables 281-0025 Employment (SEPH) and 284-0001 Job vacancy statistics (JVS), Statistics Canada

Given the definition of what constitutes a job vacancy, uncertainty as to the proportion of low-wage service sector jobs available to Canadian workers and the fact 30% of the data is imputed (i.e. guesstimated), these numbers are likely meaningless. While the following demonstrates an alternative view of the JVS  data provided, it should not be misinterpreted as confidence in said data.

Chart 1 shows the relative share by industry for employment as well as job vacancies, as estimated by the SEPH and JVS, respectively. The chart shows data for industries whose job vacancies comprised 5% or greater of total estimated vacancies. Notably absent is ‘unclassified’ jobs, which Statscan intentionally omitted from the JVS (see latest post on the ‘unclassified’ jobs boom).

Health care and social assistance had the highest job vacancy rate at 14.9% while accounting for the second greatest share of total employment at 11.5%. Accommodation and food services had the second highest vacancy rate at 12.7% despite accounting for a significantly lower share of total employment at 7.7%, the widest gap among industry sectors. Given this is May 2013 data, it’s likely anticipated summer vacation / tourism season demand. Retail trade had the third highest job vacancy rate at 11.4%, while accounting for the greatest share of total employment at 12.5%.

Collectively, Retail, Accommodation, Food, and Other services had a job vacancy rate of 29% while accounting for 24% of total employment in May 2013.

The unemployment-to-job vacancy ratio using Statscan’s official (R4) unemployment figure for May 2013 was 6.3. Using the broader Canadian equivalent of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 labour underutilisation figure (see here and here), the ratio was nearly double that at 12.1.


While the comment above on JVS data reliability may seem a bit harsh, hopefully the following table helps illustrate the problem:

There’s a reason why a second chart showing the share of low-wage service sector job vacancies by province wasn’t posted. The May 2013 data for Retail, Food, Accommodation and Other services by province is only available for Alberta, where collectively these sectors accounted for 63% of the disclosed job vacancies – but ‘only’ 38% if one includes undisclosed vacancies. Notably, Mining, quarrying, oil and gas accounted for so few vacancies that no data for the industry sector was disclosed at any level of geography.

To the point about confidentiality suppression, the x’s pretty much covering the whole table: No method to the madness is provided on either the JVS info page (see Disclosure Control) nor in the Guide to JVS. Going by the Confidentiality (non-disclosure) rules for the 2011 Census, geographic area suppression doesn’t apply at the federal or provincial levels.


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