Unemployment is down, wages are up, and employers across Canada were actively seeking to fill just over one million (1,005,700) vacant positions as summer kicked off.

Sounds great, right?

But, which industries’ wages are keeping up with rampant inflation? How can newcomers to Canada navigate the myriad pressures of rising interest rates on the one hand, and plentiful job opportunities on the other? And for those planning on moving to Canada in the near future, how can they put their best foot forward amid a potential tip into a contracting economy?

Welcome to the mid-year Moving2Canada Jobs Report, where we’ll go a little deeper into some of these questions and aim to provide a few answers.

Canada’s record-low unemployment rate

July was the fifth consecutive month of record-low unemployment in Canada, holding at a historically low 4.9%, the same rate as June and a decrease of 0.2 points since May.

But according to Statistics Canada’s June Labour Force Survey, this decrease was largely the result of fewer people looking for work — and those people are not counted towards the unemployment rate.

Unemployment in Canada July 2022

Canada’s unemployment rate has dropped below 5% for the first time ever, following a massive spike at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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More than one million job vacancies

From getting served in a restaurant to getting a passport, people in Canada have been asking: where are all the workers?

Employers across practically all sectors of the economy have had a ‘We’re hiring!’ sign up for some time now, but can’t seem to get enough new people to join their teams. This cuts right across the economy, including skilled work such as nursing as well as unskilled work such as waiting tables, and much more in between.

Across all sectors, employers in Canada were actively seeking to fill just over one million (1,005,700) vacant positions at the beginning of May, up 42.5% (+300,100) from May 2021. Public data show that a ramp-up in job vacancies took place through the second half of 2021, and has been simmering at the one million mark since around December, 2021.

Some of the sectors crying out for workers include health care and social assistance (143,400), accommodation and food services (161,100), retail trade (99,200), manufacturing (86,800), construction (84,600), and transportation and warehousing (51,100).

The ongoing labour shortage is a key factor in the Government of Canada’s ambitious immigration targets, which includes admitting more than 1.3 new permanent residents between 2022 and 2024. Hundreds of thousands of temporary workers will join them through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

People considering a move to Canada can consult this guide to identify an appropriate immigration pathway.

Wage gains accelerating

Average hourly wages in Canada rose 5.2% (+$1.54 to $31.14) through both June and July, up from 3.9% in May and 3.3% in April. So, not only are wages increasing, but the pace at which they are increasing is itself increasing.

Another government report shows that average weekly wages are up 2.5% year-over-year, showing that hourly and weekly wage increases are not in perfect concert with each other. The number of hours worked by workers in Canada has been somewhat volatile through the COVID-19 pandemic, with its associated economic shutdowns and other containment measures.

Whether you’re tracking hourly or weekly wages, however, those increases may not be enough to result in real wage increases as we all deal with . . .

The ‘I’ word: Inflation (and what workers can do about it)

Global economists continue to debate the actual causes of this inflationary period, so we’re not going to get into how an inflation rate in Canada of around 8% all came about. Suffice to say that inflation is real and way above the Central Bank target rate, and that it is biting some people hard — some harder than others.

Workers have seen this as they go about their daily lives, buying groceries and getting from A to B. Not wanting to see their quality of life diminish, they are asking their employers for a raise or changing jobs altogether, often in an effort to keep pace with inflation.

Indeed, some workers are trying to secure income increases well in excess of the current inflation rate as they anticipate a continued high-inflation environment. In a progressive income tax system such as those across Canada’s provinces, an increase in gross pay typically does not correspond to an equal increase in net (take-home) pay, as more of workers’ gross income becomes taxable.

Workers are looking for real wage increases — increases that help with their increased living costs.

Ruairi Spillane: engineering jobs in Canada

Moving2Canada and Outpost Recruitment Founder, Ruairi Spillane

“Workers in Canada, as well as those considering a move here, are concerned about the cost of living for themselves and their families, and understandably so,” says Ruairi Spillane, Managing Director of Outpost Recruitment, a talent agency specializing in placing construction and engineering professionals.

“Workers have some ‘low-hanging fruit’ available, so to speak, when it comes to maximizing their potential income — getting their resume right, learning how to target their applications, preparing interview scenarios, and negotiating an offer.

“Before workshopping a resume with a candidate, I often ask ‘Do you want to add ten thousand dollars to your starting salary?’ When you frame it like that, putting a couple of hours into re-working your resume becomes a lot more exciting.”

Construction is one sector where workers have enjoyed wage increases above the economy as a whole. Other such sectors include Mining and quarrying, Utilities, Manufacturing, Retail trade, Transportation and warehousing, Finance and insurance, Professional, scientific and technical services, Health care and social assistance, and Public administration.

The ‘R’ word: Recession

“Winter is coming” repeated House Stark in the very first episode of Game of Thrones, a refrain that Canadians bear in mind as they enjoy a warm summer. Now, leading economists in Canada are sounding a similar tone — the recession is coming.

Don’t believe it? Here’s the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) earlier this summer, forecasting that Canada’s economy is headed for a recession in 2023, though one that will be moderate and short-lived by historical standards — and can be reversed once inflation settles enough for central banks to lower rates.

Canada’s Central Bank has spent much of 2022 trying to tame inflation by increasing interest rates. This affects the interest rates charged by retail banks on products such as mortgages, essentially making it more expensive for people to take out a loan.

The potentially good news is that the Central Bank is optimistic that its measures will help to  reduce inflation to around 3% by the end of 2023.

How is this connected to Canada’s job market? In times of low unemployment, such as today, employers’ demand for workers typically exceeds the supply — in Canada, that has resulted in the million-plus vacancies we see today. In such a tight labour market, employers typically need to pay higher wages to attract employees, ultimately leading to rising wage inflation.

RBC, among others, is predicting that Central Bank strategies today, which focus on increasing interest rates to cool inflation, will result in a higher unemployment rate in 2023. In turn, we can expect this to result in a slower pace of wage inflation. That might sound negative for workers and newcomers, but the pace of inflation in living costs should also slow down, stagnate, or even decrease as the overheating economy cools off.

Expert resources to help immigrants get jobs in Canada

Canada’s job market provides a wealth of opportunity for newcomers, but it is only that — an opportunity.

To take full advantage, recent and prospective immigrants can leverage free government-funded resources and programs. We recently partnered with Canada InfoNet, a government-funded pre-arrival employment support program, to bring you two expert guides on transitioning to a career in Canada:

How to take advantage in Canada’s job market

The Moving2Canada team has added a new feature for people who want to get a job in Canada or accelerate their career here. Readers can now opt in to hear from recruiters and employers we partner with and upload a resume to their account, all for free.

We’re excited to help more newcomers and people wishing to move to Canada in their career goals.

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How to get a job in Canada

We at Moving2Canada have been flooded with inquiries from people who recently moved to Canada, or who have been laid off, or whose plans to move to Canada in the near future have been affected by the pandemic.

Despite the public health crisis and economic downturn, and the anxiety and confusion that may result, now is a good time to make sure you are well positioned to take advantage when Canada’s economy recovers.

Here’s a popular webinar from recruitment expert and Moving2Canada founder, Ruairi Spillane, about how to create the best resume for the Canadian jobs market:

New and improved Jobs Board

We have worked hard over recent weeks to ramp up the number and range of job postings on our Jobs Board.

Don’t forget to complete or update your Moving2Canada profile to hear about job opportunities in your industry in Canada!

Want to dig deeper into the Canada Jobs Report data? Try these interactive tools, courtesy of StatsCan.

Let your job search soar with Moving2Canada's help

Create a Moving2Canada account to get job postings, advice, and a copy of our FREE Getting Started Guide!

Do you have health insurance for Canada?

Many newcomers are not eligible for Canadian healthcare coverage when they first arrive.

Our partner, Cigna, offers newcomers a range of comprehensive health insurance policies for peace of mind. Explore your options with a free quote today!