Openings fell 3.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis to 959,615 in the third quarter, Statistics Canada reported Monday. That’s probably the first quarterly decline in vacancies in more than two years, though the agency didn’t collect figures in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The job vacancy rate, or the number of empty positions as a percentage of total positions, fell to 5.4% between July and September, from 5.7% in the previous quarter. That remains high, compared with 3.3% in the first quarter of 2020.
Monday’s data suggest Canada’s red-hot labor market has started to cool as the economy gears down and higher interest rates bite. While still high compared to historical levels, a continued decrease in the number of unfilled jobs typically coincides with slowing demand.
That could also take pressure off wage growth, which has been persistently topping a 5% annual pace. That’s good news for policymakers at the Bank of Canada, who have openly expressed their concern that the overheating job market and high inflation could result in a wage-price spiral if conditions persist.
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Vacancy data are also an important metric in the central bank’s attempt to engineer a “soft-landing” for the economy. The optimal scenario for Governor Tiff Macklem and his officials is rebalancing the labor market and getting inflation back to their 2% target with lower job vacancies and fewer actual job losses than in past downturns.