Guide to the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, 2020

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Release date: December 15, 2020

1 Survey description

The Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) collects data on the number of job vacancies by occupation and economic region on a quarterly basis. Additional information is also available by occupation, such as the average hourly wage offered, the proportion of job vacancies for full-time and part-time positions, the duration of job vacancies, and the levels of education and experience sought for the job.

Data from the JVWS is used for identifying labour market pressures in certain regions and occupations in Canada. Detailed information is collected about each vacancy to get a comprehensive picture of the unmet labour demand in Canada. The JVWS adds to the labour market information available to support decision making by employers, job seekers, students and policy makers.

JVWS also released annual data on wages by occupation for 2016 and 2017. The collection of wage data has been suspended. Research is being conducted on alternative methods to provide estimates of wages by occupation and region. Information about the concepts and definitions of the Wage component can be found in the JVWS guide for 2017 and 2018.

Starting in January 2020, a new electronic questionnaire was introduced to make it more efficient for respondents to complete the survey and for processing the data. Few modifications were made to the content, apart from the removal of the question on professional certification and from changes to the question on the duration of the vacancy. The option of constantly recruiting is no longer included as a response to the question on the duration of the vacancy, while a new question was added to assess whether the recruitment for the position is expected to be ongoing.

2 Concepts and definitions

2.1 Concepts and definitions of the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey

This section provides users with definitions of the terms and variables associated with the survey.

Average hourly wage offered: The average hourly wage offered by employers for vacant positions. It excludes overtime, tips, commissions and bonuses. Salaries are converted to hourly wages based on information regarding the salary frequency and the expected average number of hours worked per week. The offered wage may be different from the actual wage paid once the position is filled.

If the salaries among the job vacancies for the same occupation vary, the respondent is asked to report the lowest wage or salary. When the compensation advertised for the job vacancy is in the form of a salary range or an hourly pay range, the respondent is asked to report the lowest value of the range. If the work will be paid based on, for example, the number of parts produced, mileage or the number of times a task is performed, the respondent is asked to report the expected minimum salary.

Constantly recruiting: Recruitment is expected to continue after the current vacancies are filled. This question was added on January 1st, 2020.

Duration of job vacancy: Number of days the job has been vacant at the time of the survey. In the context of the JVWS, it refers to the number of days of active recruitment.

Economic region: An economic region (ER) is a grouping of complete census divisions (with one exception in Ontario) created as a standard geographic unit for analysis of regional economic activity. ERs are classified in accordance with the SGC 2016. Several ERs are combined to ensure consistency with the ERs available in the Labour Force Survey. Estimates are released for 69 ERs. A list of ERs and Standard Geographical Classification codes by province is available in Appendix A.

Employees or payroll employees: The 'employee' concept used in the JVWS is comprised of full-time employees, part-time employees, as well as permanent, casual, temporary, and seasonal employees. It also includes working owners, directors, partners, and other officers of incorporated businesses, as well as employees who work off site (e.g., at home or on the road) but report to the location, and those employees on paid leave.

The 'employee' concept used in the JVWS is meant to exclude owners or partners of unincorporated businesses and professional practices, the self-employed, subcontractors, external consultants, unpaid family workers, persons working outside Canada, and military personnel. It also excludes employees on unpaid leave, such as those on extended sick leave who are receiving insurance benefits. JVWS employment estimates are calibrated to correspond to the employment estimates from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH).

Industry: General nature of the activity carried out by the location. Industries are classified in accordance with the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2017 version 3.0. This information is taken from the Business Register, a database containing the complete list of all active businesses in Canada that have a Canadian income tax account, are employers, or have a Goods and Services Tax account. Survey respondents are also asked to confirm the industry in which their business operates during the survey.

Job vacancies: A job is vacant if it meets all of the following conditions:

The jobs could be full-time, part-time, permanent, temporary, casual, or seasonal. Jobs reserved for subcontractors, external consultants, or other workers who are not considered employees, are excluded (see Employees or payroll employees).

Job vacancy rate: The number of job vacancies expressed as a percentage of labour demand; i.e., all occupied and vacant jobs.

Labour demand: The sum of employed individuals (met labour demand) and the number of job vacancies (unmet labour demand).

Level of education sought: Minimum level of education sought for the job vacancies. It includes a category that covers vacancies for which there is no educational requirement.

Level of experience sought: Minimum number of years of experience sought for the job vacancies.

Location: Refers to the lowest level of the Business Register statistical hierarchy. The location, as a statistical unit, is defined as a production unit at a single geographical location at which or from which economic activity is conducted and for which, at a minimum, employment data are available.

Occupation: Designates the type of work that must be carried out, based on the job title and on the key activities or functions associated with the job vacancies. Occupations are classified according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2016.

Professional certification: Designation granted that attests to the person's ability to perform a job or task. Usually, certification is granted if the candidate passes an exam that tests the required knowledge and skills for a job. A certification is generally granted by a certifying agency or a professional association. This question is no longer asked as of January 1st, 2020.

Quarterly estimates: The Job Vacancy Component of the JVWS collects quarterly data from a sample of 100,000 locations. The number of job vacancies and the number of payroll employees are stocks (or counts) of distinct vacancies and jobs over three months and are not weighted averages of monthly estimates. Users should not disaggregate the estimates to monthly figures as the sample is designed to be representative of the quarter.

Recruitment strategies: Methods used by the employer to fill a job vacancy.

Type of position: Vacant jobs are classified as permanent, temporary or seasonal.

Type of work: A full-time job or vacancy requires 30 or more hours of work per week, while a part-time job or vacancy requires less than 30 hours of work per week.

2.2 Questionnaire development

The content and concepts of the original JVWS questionnaire were developed through consultations with Employment and Social Development Canada. Qualitative testing took place through a series of interviews in both English and French conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre. In these interviews, participants were asked for their comments about the terminology, the concepts, the appearance of the electronic questionnaire screens, and the ease of providing information. The same process was followed to test the new questionnaire implemented in January 2020.

Statistics Canada's Business Payrolls Survey and job vacancy surveys used in other countries were also used as information sources in developing the survey content.

3 Survey methodology

3.1 Target and survey population

The JVWS target population includes all business locations in Canada, excluding religious organizations (NAICS 8131), private households (NAICS 814), and federal, provincial and territorial, as well as international and other extra-territorial public administrations (NAICS 911, 912 and 919).

The JVWS survey population comes from the Business Register (BR) of the Data Integration Infrastructure Division at Statistics Canada. The BR is updated continuously using data from various surveys, business profiling and administrative data.

In addition to the industry exclusions mentioned earlier, the survey population also excludes locations that have not reported any payroll deductions for a period of more than 17 months and new locations for which the industry or economic region is missing in the BR. In addition, locations with only one employee have been excluded from the survey population to reduce the response burden on small businesses. However, estimates are representative of all businesses with one employee or more.

Given that the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours (SEPH) and the JVWS target populations are very similar, employment estimates produced from the JVWS survey population data have been calibrated to ensure they correspond to those from the SEPH. Data calibration improves the reliability of the estimates and consistency of estimates across surveys (see the sub-section entitled Estimation).

3.2 Sample

The JVWS is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design. The sample is selected from a survey population of close to 900,000 locations.

The survey is conducted on a sample of approximately 100,000 locations.Note Since the beginning of 2017, about 1/8 of the sample is rotated out each quarter. With the exception of certain locations that are in the sample on a permanent basis due to their unique characteristics, most sampled locations will remain in the sample for two years, or eight quarters. Note that locations that were part of the 2015 and 2016 sample may have remained in the sample for over two years, as the rotating out of locations is done gradually. Every three months, the JVWS sampling frame is updated to reflect new locations added to the Business Register and to eliminate those that no longer exist.

The JVWS sample is stratified by industry (at the two-digit NAICS level), geography (economic region) and size (number of employees per location). A power allocation method is used to determine the sample size in each stratum. The stratification and the power allocation method ensure the quality of the estimates for large and small regions and industries, as well as a better representation of all occupations.

4 Data collection

The JVWS is a mandatory survey. Data are obtained directly from respondents using an electronic questionnaire. An invitation to complete the electronic questionnaire is sent by email to respondents with an electronic address on file. Selected businesses with no electronic address on file receive a letter inviting them to complete the electronic questionnaire. Alternate modes of collection, such as electronic spreadsheets, may be used to accommodate respondents with a large number of locations or occupations. Each quarterly sample is divided into three distinct monthly groups, each of which have the first day of the month as the reference period. This allows a better measure of the job vacancies throughout the quarter. Respondents are asked to provide the information based on the situation in effect at their location on the first day of the month (the reference date).

During collection, follow-up is made by computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) in cases of non-response, and with locations that have reported being out of scope for the survey. During the collection period, reminders are sent to locations that have not yet completed the questionnaire, and, after three electronic reminders, follow-up calls are made to collect the data.

The questionnaire can be found on the Integrated Metadatabase (IMDB).

The following information is confirmed by the respondent:

The following information is collected from the respondent:

5 Data processing

5.1 Treatment of non-response

There are two types of non-response, each of which is treated differently for this survey:

Total non-response is handled by imputing the data of certain influential non-responding units. The data of these units are imputed based on a combination of data that the units have provided in the past, administrative data and data of other units contributing to the same estimation domain. Then, an adjustment is performed on the weights (or reweighting) of the responding units and of those for which the data were imputed to account for the remaining non-responding units.

In the case of partial non-response, imputation is used to fill in information not provided by the respondent. Imputation makes it possible to have a complete set of data if one cannot collect it during the collection period. Depending on the type of missing variables, a mix of regression and donor imputation methods is used. Most continuous variables, such as wage variables, are imputed by regression imputation. For donor imputation, the auxiliary information on the sampling frame is used to identify a donor (a responding unit) that has characteristics similar to that of the location with partial data. The missing data for the respondents with partial information are then replaced by the donor's data.

5.2 Occupation coding

Occupation codes are assigned to each job vacancy using the job title and job description reported in the questionnaire. From 2015 Q1 to 2019 Q4, coding has been performed manually and assisted by a computerized procedure. As of 2020 Q1, certain common job titles are being coded by an automated system and the rest are coded manually. Assigned codes are based on the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2016.

5.3 Estimation

Estimating the characteristics of a population from a survey is based on the assumption that each sampled location represents a certain number of non-sampled locations in the population. An initial design weight is assigned to each location to indicate the number of units in the population represented by that location in the sample. Large or otherwise unique locations are assigned a weight of "one" to ensure that they only represent themselves.

Two adjustments are made to the initial weights to improve the reliability of the estimates. First, the initial weights are adjusted to compensate for total or almost total non-response. The non-response adjusted weights are then modified so that the weighted employment totals are calibrated to the employment totals of the SEPH. This calibration process ensures coherence between the JVWS and SEPH employment totals by province and industrial sector (two-digit NAICS) combined, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, where the calibration is done at the provincial level only. Similarly, the calibration for the territories is done at the territorial level only.

5.4 Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Data are not seasonally adjusted for this statistical program.

From 2017 to 2019, the Job Vacancy Component has produced revised estimates on an annual basis for all previously released cycles.

Regular revisions are done to calibrate JVWS employment to revised SEPH employment numbers. Occasionally, revisions may also include changes related to concepts, new data sources, revised industrial, occupational or geographical classifications, as well as methodology.

6 Data quality

The estimates obtained from sample surveys are subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors.

6.1 Non-sampling errors

Non-sampling errors may occur throughout a survey for reasons such as non-response, coverage and classification errors (see the sub-section entitled Undercoverage), differences in the interpretation of the question, incorrect information from respondents, as well as errors during data capture, coding, and processing. Efforts to reduce non-sampling errors include careful design of questionnaires, editing of data, follow-up, imputation for non-responding units, and thorough control of processing operations.

The JVWS has a quality control program that is applied to data capture, business structure updating and data editing stages to minimize non-sampling errors. This program monitors and controls the completeness, accuracy and consistency of the reported data. Follow-up procedures are in place for non-response.

6.1.1 Undercoverage

The use of sampling frames results in coverage errors, notably undercoverage. Undercoverage occurs when the information on a location is incomplete in the Business Register. This normally happens in the case of new locations that have not yet filed payroll deduction forms with the Canada Revenue Agency.

6.2 Sampling errors

Sampling errors occur because observations are obtained from a sample rather than from the entire population. Estimates based on a sample can differ from statistics that would have been obtained if a complete census had been taken using the same instructions, interviewers and processing techniques. This difference is called the sampling error of the estimate.

6.3 Data quality indicators

The true sampling error is unknown. However, it can be estimated from the sample itself by using a statistical measure called the standard error. The standard error can be used to build a confidence interval for the estimate. When the standard error is expressed as a percentage of the estimate, it is known as the relative standard error or the coefficient of variation (CV).

Most of the JVWS data points have their own data quality indicator. Estimates are assigned a letter to indicate their quality level. The indicators take into account various factors that affect the quality of the data, notably the CV, the non-response errors, the imputation errors and subject matter expertise. These indicators are updated each quarter to reflect the most recent data quality estimates.

The overall national response rate usually varies between 80% and 85%.

Users are encouraged to take into account the quality indicators when using the JVWS data.

As shown in Table 1, the quality indicators are:

A — excellent

B — very good

C — good

D — acceptable

E — use with caution

F — too unreliable to be published.

Table 1
Quality indicators for JVWS estimatesTable 1 Note 1Table 1 Note 2Table 1 Note 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Quality indicators for Job Vacancy and Wage Survey estimates. The information is grouped by Quality indicator (appearing as row headers), Coefficient of variation (appearing as column headers).
Quality indicator Coefficient of variation
A 0% to 4.99%
B 5% to 9.99%
C 10% to 14.99%
D 15% to 24.99%
E 25% to 34.99%
F 35% or more, or when there is an insufficient number of contributors

6.4 Confidentiality

Statistics Canada is prohibited, by law, from releasing any data that would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act, which relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without their prior knowledge or written consent. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, estimates are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

The results of the JVWS are reviewed using the appropriate security measures complying with the Statistics Act to assure the safeguarding of the respondent's information and to ensure that no enterprise may be identified through the release of the estimates.

7 Comparing the Job Vacancy Component of the JVWS and the Job Vacancy Statistics

From 2015 to 2019, Statistics Canada had two measures of job vacancy levels and rates: the JVWS and the Job Vacancy Statistics (JVS), the latter of which is based primarily on data from the Business Payrolls Survey.Note  Given the similarity of the two, Statistics Canada discontinued JVS in the fall of 2019.

Some methodological differences exist between the JVWS and the JVS. The main methodological differences are described in Table 2. Users are encouraged to take these into account when comparing data from the two sources.

Table 2
Comparison of the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) and the Job Vacancy Statistics (JVS)
Table summary
This table displays the results of Comparison of the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) and the Job Vacancy Statistics (JVS). Job Vacancy and Wage Survey and Job Vacancy Statistics (appearing as column headers).
Population All businesses with one employee or more, excluding:
  • private household services
  • religious organizations
  • provincial, territorial and federal public administration
  • international and other extraterritorial public administration.
All businesses, excluding:
  • private household services
  • religious organizations
  • provincial, territorial and federal public administration
  • international and other extraterritorial public administration
  • businesses primarily involved in agriculture, fishing and trapping.
Sample size The JVWS surveys approximately 100,000 locations quarterly (about 33,000 per month). The JVS uses the Business Payrolls Survey (BPS) as its main data collection vehicle. The BPS surveys approximately 15,000 establishments monthly.
Sampling unit Location level:
  • e.g., the individual business location (store or restaurant) is generally surveyed.
Establishment level (an establishment can represent a group of locations):
  • e.g., for a large retailer or restaurant chain, the head office is generally surveyed.
Respondents JVWS respondents are more likely to be directly responsible for human resources. BPS respondents are more likely to be responsible for the payroll of the company.
Job vacancy concept The number of vacant jobs on the first day of the month and those that will become vacant during the month.

A job is vacant if it meets all three of the following conditions:
  • it is vacant on the reference date (first day of the month) or will become vacant during the month
  • there are tasks to be carried out during the month for the job in question
  • the employer is actively recruiting outside the organization to fill the job.
The number of vacant jobs on the last day of the month, since this is the reference period of the supplementary questions on vacant positions of the Business Payrolls Survey.

A job is vacant if it meets all three of the following conditions:
  • a specific position exists
  • work could start within 30 days
  • the employer is actively seeking a worker from outside the organization to fill the position.

8 Products and services

8.1 General inquiries

For inquiries on available data tables, contact Statistics Canada's Statistical Information Service (toll-free: 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

Appendix A - List of economic regions and Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) codes by province and territory

Table A.1
List of economic regions and Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) codes by province and territory
Economic regions by province and territory Code
Newfoundland and Labrador 10
Avalon Peninsula 1010
South Coast–Burin Peninsula and Notre Dame–Central Bonavista Bay 1020, 1040
West Coast–Northern Peninsula–Labrador 1030
Prince Edward Island 11
Prince Edward Island 1110
Nova Scotia 12
Cape Breton 1210
North Shore 1220
Annapolis Valley 1230
Southern 1240
Halifax 1250
New Brunswick 13
Campbellton–Miramichi 1310
Moncton–Richibucto 1320
Saint John–St. Stephen 1330
Fredericton–Oromocto 1340
Edmundston–Woodstock 1350
Quebec 24
Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine 2410
Bas-Saint-Laurent 2415
Capitale-Nationale 2420
Chaudière-Appalaches 2425
Estrie 2430
Centre-du-Québec 2433
Montérégie 2435
Montréal 2440
Laval 2445
Lanaudière 2450
Laurentides 2455
Outaouais 2460
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 2465
Mauricie 2470
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 2475
Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec 2480, 2490
Ontario 35
Ottawa 3510
Kingston–Pembroke 3515
Muskoka–Kawarthas 3520
Toronto 3530
Kitchener–Waterloo–Barrie 3540
Hamilton–Niagara Peninsula 3550
London 3560
Windsor–Sarnia 3570
Stratford–Bruce Peninsula 3580
Northeast 3590
Northwest 3595
Manitoba 46
Southeast 4610
South Central and North Central 4620, 4640
Southwest 4630
Winnipeg 4650
Interlake 4660
Parklands and North 4670, 4680
Saskatchewan 47
Regina–Moose Mountain 4710
Swift Current–Moose Jaw 4720
Saskatoon–Biggar 4730
Yorkton–Melville 4740
Prince Albert and Northern 4750, 4760
Alberta 48
Lethbridge–Medicine Hat 4810
Camrose–Drumheller 4820
Calgary 4830
Banff–Jasper–Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca–Grande Prairie–Peace River 4840, 4870
Red Deer 4850
Edmonton 4860
Wood Buffalo–Cold Lake 4880
British Columbia 59
Vancouver Island and Coast 5910
Lower Mainland–Southwest 5920
Thompson–Okanagan 5930
Kootenay 5940
Cariboo 5950
North Coast and Nechako 5960, 5970
Northeast 5980
Yukon 60
Yukon 6010
Northwest Territories 61
Northwest Territories 6110
Nunavut 62
Nunavut 6210

Appendix B – Note regarding the estimates of the Job Vacancy Component for the first quarter of 2015

For the first quarter of 2015, information was collected on 67,000 locations obtained from the regular quarterly sample, or two-thirds of the regular sample. Since only two-thirds of the sample, corresponding to February and March, were collected, estimates for the first quarter of 2015 are subject to higher sampling variability. As a result, comparisons of the first quarter of 2015 data with data from subsequent quarters should be made with caution.

The response rate for the two collection months of the first quarter of 2015 was 66.8%. However, since only two-thirds of the sample was collected, the effective response rate is 44.1%. The effective response rate has an impact on data accuracy and, consequently, on the quality indicators of the first quarter of 2015 data.

To account for the missing sample units, the quality indicators for all variables, with the exception of payroll employment, have been lowered.

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(formerly CANSIM table 285-0001)
Job vacancies, payroll employees, job vacancy rate, and average offered hourly wage by provinces and territories, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0001)
Job vacancies, payroll employees, job vacancy rate, and average offered hourly wage by economic regions, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0002)
Job vacancies, payroll employees, job vacancy rate, and average offered hourly wage by industry sector, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0002)
Job vacancies, payroll employees, job vacancy rate, and average offered hourly wage by industry sub-sector, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0003)
Job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation (broad occupational category), quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0003)
Job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation (minor group), quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by selected characteristics, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation and type of work, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation and duration of job vacancy, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation and type of position, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation and minimum level of education sought, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
14-10-0328-06 (Archived)
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation and certification requirement, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies, proportion of job vacancies and average offered hourly wage by occupation and minimum experience level sought, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality
(formerly CANSIM table 285-0004)
Job vacancies and proportion of job vacancies by occupation and recruitment strategies, quarterly, unadjusted for seasonality


Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS)

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