Canada is experiencing a labour shortage and many of the unfilled positions during Q3 were from the oil and natural gas industry. The upstream and midstream sectors of the industry employed over 176,000 people, a 3% increase from Q2. However, the labour shortage isn’t due to a growing industry. Overall, the oil and gas industry employment is tracking below 2016 numbers.
Despite increasing production, busier rig activity, and relatively higher oil prices, job recovery continues to be dampened by cautious investment and wide-scale efforts to improve profitability. The labour shortage is a result of fewer people being available to the oil and gas labour market. Overall, the industry’s unemployment rate declined from 5.4% in the second quarter to 3.9% in the third quarter.
British Columbia has the tightest labour market with 100% of the available labour force working. Both Alberta and Saskatchewan are at 97%, followed by Atlantic Canada at 93%. The low unemployment rates suggest a tightening labour market that could prevent job growth and overall industry recovery. Companies will likely look to fill job vacancies with new entrants to the industry or recover workers laid off during the downturn who transitioned to other industries. Another potential solution is to tap into pools of unemployed workers from other regions.
PetroLMI releases industry specific quarterly reports that detail the latest Labour Force Survey numbers from Statistics Canada. The Q3 Oil and Gas Employment and Labour Market Data report is a quick two page summary of the information.