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Study: Long-term job vacancies in Canada, 2016

Released: 2018-02-20

Long-term job vacancies, defined as positions for which recruitment efforts had been ongoing for 90 days or more, represented 9% of all Canadian job vacancies in 2016.

A number of labour market factors, including the possibility of a shortage of labour with the requested experience and skills, contribute to delays in filling job vacancies.

These results presented today are drawn from a new study entitled Long-term job vacancies in Canada, which uses data from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey.

For businesses, it is important to understand the factors that affect the duration of job vacancies since jobs that take longer to fill can lead to additional costs and lower output.

For workers, a better understanding of the characteristics of job vacancies and the wages offered for these jobs can help them make informed decisions on training or career choices.

Long-term job vacancies are more prevalent in the North and in oil-producing provinces

There was a higher proportion of long-term job vacancies in the three territories, the oil-producing provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador) and in British Columbia in 2016.

Nunavut had the highest proportion of long-term job vacancies (17%), while Prince Edward Island had the lowest (6%). In Nunavut and the other two territories, remoteness from large urban centres and greater challenges in finding qualified workers contribute to labour shortages.

In the oil-producing provinces, the proportion of long-term job vacancies was 11%, compared with 10% in British Columbia. The need for specialized labour likely contributed to these results.

The proportion of long-term job vacancies varies by occupational category

Occupations in health (16%), management (16%) and natural and applied sciences and related fields (14%) had the highest proportions of long-term job vacancies in 2016.

In health-related occupations, the aging of the population, which exerts upward pressure on the demand for health services, may explain the higher prevalence of long-term job vacancies.

Meanwhile, the proportion of long-term job vacancies was about three times lower for sales and service occupations (5%), which can be explained by higher turnover in these types of jobs.

Positions with higher education and experience requirements take longer to fill

The proportion of long-term job vacancies was three times higher for positions requiring a university degree above the bachelor level (19%) than for those with no specific educational requirements (6%).

Similar trends of long-term vacancy can be observed for jobs requiring professional certification or work experience.

Among vacancies for positions requiring at least eight years of experience, 18% had been vacant for 90 days or more, compared with 8% for positions requiring less than one year of experience.

These results reflect a scarcity in the skills being sought, or to the longer hiring process for positions requiring more qualifications.

Offered wages are higher for long-term job vacancies

Generally speaking, offered wages are higher for long-term job vacancies than for other job vacancies.

For long-term job vacancies, the average offered wage was $23.61 per hour in 2016. This compared with $19.63 for other vacant positions.

Even after accounting for differences in characteristics between long-term and other job vacancies—factors like education and experience, which are associated with better pay—wages remained higher for long-term job vacancies.

Hence, after accounting for the difference in characteristics, offered wages were 5% higher for full-time positions that had been vacant for 90 days or more than for positions that had been vacant for less than 15 days.

  Note to readers

The results of this study are taken from the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS). The JVWS collects information on the number of job vacancies by occupation. It also collects data on the hourly wage offered, the proportion of full-time and part-time job vacancies, the duration of job vacancies and the level of education and experience sought.

The JVWS target population includes all business locations in Canada, and excludes private households, religious organizations, federal, provincial and territorial administrations, international public organizations and any other extraterritorial public organization. The sample comprises approximately 100,000 business locations drawn quarterly.

For the purposes of this study, data were classified by year and annual estimates were calculated by taking the average for all quarters and giving each quarter equal weight.


The article "Long-term job vacancies in Canada" is now available in Insights on Canadian Society (Catalogue number75-006-X).

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté (613-951-0803;

For more information on Insights on Canadian Society, contact Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté (613-951-0803;

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