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Metro Help-Wanted Index: January 2013

Local Job Prospects Balanced

The Canadian labour market ended 2012 on a strong note, creating nearly 100,000 jobs in the final two months of the year. For the year as a whole, 312,000 jobs were created, as employment climbed by 1.1 per cent. However, other recent economic data have been weaker. In particular, gross domestic product fell by 0.1 per cent between August and October 2012. Given that employment tends to lag economic activity, job creation is expected to be more moderate over the near term. The Conference Board of Canada’s Metro Help-Wanted Index shows that near-term prospects are positive in nine CMAs, stable in nine, and negative in nine. The outlook is particularly bright in Quebec, where prospects are up in four of the five CMAs. Prospects are more mixed elsewhere. Although its prospects are positive, St. Catharines–Niagara has the highest indicator of labour market tightness among the 27 CMAs covered in this report, signifying significant slack in the labour market there. In contrast, labour markets remain tight out West. Indeed, the ratio, which measures the number of unemployed workers to the number of online job ads, sits below 1 in Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, and Edmonton, while it stands at 9.9 in St. Catharines–Niagara.

Near-Term Employment Prospects

Arrow up Up Québec, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, Montréal, Hamilton, St. Catharines–Niagara, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Calgary
Stable line Stable St. John's, Halifax, Toronto, London, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver
Arrow down Down Saint John, Saguenay, Ottawa–Gatineau, Kingston, Greater Sudbury, Oshawa, Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo, Abbotsford–Mission, Victoria

Biggest Advancers (December 2012 over November 2012)

Metro Help Wanted Index: Biggest Advancers

Biggest Decliners (December 2012 over November 2012)

Metro Help Wanted Index: Biggest Decliners


*Scales are adjusted to accommodate data.
Note: A higher Help-Wanted Index (bright blue line) is preferable because it means that the number of job ads is increasing, and therefore the labour market is strengthening. On the other hand, a lower indicator of labour market tightness (dark blue line) is preferable because it means that the labour market is tightening, and therefore the chances of finding a job are higher.
Sources: Wanted Technologies Corporation; Statistics Canada; The Conference Board of Canada.

About the Metro Help-Wanted Index

The Conference Board of Canada Help-Wanted Index is based on the seasonally adjusted number of new, unduplicated jobs posted online during the month across 79 job-posting websites. Raw data are collected by Wanted Technologies, a Canadian-based firm that provides information and analysis on hiring demand. The monthly Help-Wanted Index does not account for existing ads posted during previous months.

The Conference Board also constructs the Barometer of Labour Market Tightness. The barometer is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed persons by the number of available ads posted online. Therefore, a falling barometer is associated with a tightening labour market. A rising barometer is associated with a loosening labour market.

The number of unduplicated ads includes the total ads available online during the period under review. All data are seasonally adjusted, and the indices are available at the national, provincial and metropolitan levels.

The Help-Wanted Indexes and the Barometers of Labour Market Tightness are available from May 2005. Data from 2005 to 2007 are heavily influenced by the addition of new websites surveyed. From July 2009 onward, the data are collected from the same 79 online job boards.


Disclaimer: Forecasts and research often involve numerous assumptions and data sources, and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties. This information is not intended as specific investment, accounting, legal, or tax advice.

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Alan Arcand Alan Arcand
Principal Economist

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