PEI

Job vacancies on P.E.I. take a big jump

The number of job vacancies on P.E.I. rose dramatically in the first quarter of 2019, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

People may not be where the jobs are, says economist

The number of job vacancies on P.E.I. grew through 2018 and into the first quarter of 2019. (Rich Kareckas/AP)

The number of job vacancies on P.E.I. rose dramatically in the first quarter of 2019, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The 38 per cent increase on P.E.I., to 1,635, was the seventh highest among the country's economic regions.

The increase came while there were still about 8,000 unemployed in the province.

"The puzzle there, I guess, is that we also have a fairly high unemployment rate," said UPEI economist Jim Sentance.

"I think the answer to that for the most part is that the people that are unemployed aren't necessarily where the jobs are being created or they may not have the skills that are necessary."

Sentance notes the unemployment rate in the Charlottetown area is about half the rate in other parts of the province.

Wages stagnate

P.E.I. has the lowest wages in the country, and there is no sign yet that the growing number of vacant jobs is having an impact on that.

Wages being offered for the vacant jobs is little changed, and may even be falling slightly.

Sentance said wages can be slow to change. Collective agreements, for example, can lock in wages for years at a time. Typically, if wages increase, businesses will look to pass on those costs to customers, but not everyone is in a position to do that.

"If you're in a business where you know you're selling into a national/international market and the price is set somewhere else, you really can't raise your price," said Sentance.

Eventually, Sentance said, employers may begin to raise wages in order to attract employees and get work done.

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About the Author

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.

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