P.E.I. has the toughest job market in the country, with more than nine people looking for work for every job vacancy, almost triple the national rate of 3.3, says Statistics Canada.

The 9.4 unemployed per job vacancy on P.E.I. is the highest ratio in the country. In other Maritime provinces, it was just under six. The lowest was in Saskatchewan, at 1.5.

The unemployed and job vacancies

  Thousands of unemployed Thousands of job vacancies  Unemployed to job vacancy ratio
Canada 811.7 248.1 3.3
Newfoundland and Labrador 22.7 2.9 7.8
P.E.I. 6.8 0.7 9.4
Nova Scotia 29.1 5.3 5.5
New Brunswick 24.9 4.3 5.8
Quebec 170.5 51.7 3.3
Ontario 316.3 90.1 3.5
Manitoba 24.8 9.6 2.6
Saskatchewan 16.9 11.0 1.5
Alberta 83.6 45.8 1.8
British Columbia 112.4  25.6  4.4
Yukon 0.7 0.4 1.6
Northwest Territories 1.5 0.5 3.4
Nunavut 1.4 0.2 6.9

This week's report is the first time Statistics Canada has looked at unemployment in this way, and takes an average over a three-month period from July through September. Because it is the first report of its kind, the numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Both Statistics Canada and economists say further reports are needed to know if what they're seeing is a blip or a trend.

The experience on P.E.I., however, is that summer — with tourism, fish processing and agricultural jobs in full swing — is the best time to be looking for a job. Future reports could well show the situation only gets worse.

Jim Sentance, an economist at UPEI, said he's wasn't surprised by Statistic Canada's report.

"P.E.I.'s economy is not the best in the country by any stretch. We have a chronic unemployment problem," he told CBC News.

According to last summer's survey, there were 6,800 Islanders vying for 700 jobs.

One place many people turn to to find work is the Employment Journey, a free newspaper available across the Island that highlights employers and employment opportunities.

"Definitely there's a lot of people looking for jobs," said Gloria Welton, owner of Employment Journey. But she also says there are many employers who need workers in areas such as the trucking and aeorspace industries. The problem is the jobs may not be listed where a job seeker may be looking.

"They're not advertised, so there's people looking for work, and there's jobs out there, and I think there's a gap, there's a disconnect there," she said.

The province said the number of jobs on P.E.I. has grown since the survey was done.

"Well, I think it shows that when we do have a job vacancy, that Islanders are pretty aggressive to go out and get those jobs, it's important to them," said Innovation Minister Allen Roach.

Statistics Canada will be releasing a second survey on employment in March.