The greater Quebec region experienced its strongest population growth in 30 years last year. Despite this, the labor shortage has continued to worsen, and the job vacancy rate remains exceptionally high. Like everywhere, in fact.
The National Capital was full of new citizens last year, reveals data from the “Panorama of the regions of Quebec”, published Wednesday morning by the Institut de la Statistique du Québec (ISQ).
The population growth rate there increased from 0.52% in 2020-2021 to 1.42% in 2021-2022, “the highest rate recorded by this region since data became available at the regional level, i.e. since 1986-1987,” note government statisticians.
All things considered, Lanaudière, the Laurentians and Estrie (respectively +1.69%, +1.61%, +1.6%) remain the regions where the population is growing the fastest.
The economy is so strong in Quebec that this increase in the number of workers is not enough to fill all the job offers. More than 2,600 new job postings were published last year, bringing the vacancy rate to 7%.
For all of Quebec, there are now 233,500 vacant positions in total, an increase of approximately 29,200 (+14%) compared to 2021. If we broaden the analysis to the period between 2019 and 2022, the ISQ records an explosion of 44% in vacant positions across Quebec.
“The peak” of this shortage was reached around mid-2022, puts ISQ statistician Luc Cloutier-Villeneuve into perspective. Since then, the labor shortage has started to ease. “We are going down a little bit, but we are still above the 2019 level.”
This drop in the number of vacant positions mainly concerns jobs that require a high school diploma or less. “We cannot necessarily reduce the number of vacant positions that require more in-depth training,” notes the expert.
Consequence of this shortage: employers are raising the stakes. The average hourly wage offered to fill their empty seats reached $23.39 per hour for all regions last year, an increase of $1.55 (+7.1%) in one year. These salary proposals nevertheless remain well below the average salary in Quebec, which is around $30 per hour.
More construction, fewer owners
For the first time since 1971 in Quebec, the proportion of owners has decreased in the population. This rate decreased by 1.4 percentage points between 2016 and 2021, to stand at 59.9%. The decrease in the property rate exceeds 2 percentage points in the regions of Laval (– 2.8 percentage points), Lanaudière (– 2.4 percentage points) and Montérégie (– 2.1 percentage points ). Only Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean resisted this decline among all the regions.
However, spending on residential construction has continued to increase and is showing vigorous growth. This is because the money is mainly used to renovate existing housing stock rather than to build new housing.
New construction swallowed up more than $1 billion last year, down 6.5% from 2021, while spending on residential renovations grew by nearly $4.1 billion, an increase by 20.7%.
This report is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.