There are about 1,000 fewer job vacancies in Saskatchewan than there were a year ago, according to a report released by Statistics Canada on Thursday. 

Comparing the first quarter of 2017 with the same period in 2016, the year-over-year decrease in job vacancies — meaning unfilled, available positions — was 10.5 per cent, leaving about 8,500 job vacancies throughout the province. 

The biggest declines in job vacancies were in the retail, accommodation and food services sectors.

However, the number of job vacancies actually rose in the mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction, and manufacturing industries. 

Jobs numbers are a hotly debated topic

Last week, both the opposition NDP and Minister of Finance Kevin Doherty weighed in on the meaning of the June Labour Force Survey from Stats Canada. There was an increase in the number of full-time jobs in the province but part-time jobs were down.

NDP jobs critic Trent Wotherspoon voiced concerns about the increase in employment insurance beneficiaries, while Doherty criticized the opposition for playing politics.

"Both sides are going to read whatever they want into those numbers," said Jason Childs, an economics professor at the University of Regina.

"Let's not go completely insane on reading into the numbers. Unless you can have a sustained trend, this is just one piece of data."

Childs said overall, there are signs that Saskatchewan's economy is bouncing back after a difficult couple of years due to low commodity prices.

"'Sigh of relief' might be the correct term. Oil and gas, mining seems to be rebounding a little bit. It seems to be coming back."

Childs said the oil and gas sector has adjusted to $45 to $50 per barrel oil, and that could make for a steadying influence on the economy.

Job vacancies increase across Canada

In the first quarter of this year, Saskatchewan's job vacancy rate was down to 1.8 per cent from two per cent one year earlier.

The number of job vacancies throughout Canada, though, increased to 388,000 — a jump of 58,000.

Job vacancies

In terms of changes to job vacancies, Saskatchewan's first quarter was rock bottom in Canada. (Statistics Canada)