Unemployment rate in N.B. near all-time low, some sectors struggle to find workers

·3 min read
New Brunswick is experiencing a shortage of construction workers as the unemployment rate declines to 7.1 per cent. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)
New Brunswick is experiencing a shortage of construction workers as the unemployment rate declines to 7.1 per cent. (Tom Ayers/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick's unemployment rate is declining, and available jobs have decreased this month, while some sectors continue to look for workers.

According to Statistics Canada data released Friday, the province's unemployment rate has decreased by 1.8 per cent from May of last year to May 2022.

The province's unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent this May was the second-lowest it's been since 2001. The absolute lowest unemployment rate in that period was seven per cent in April.

A few thousand jobs lost

New Brunswick gained 8,300 jobs from last year, but lost 3,900 just between April and May of this year.

This bucks the country's month-over-month job-increase trend. Canada's economy added 39,800 jobs last month, and more than a million in the last year. The jobless rate for the country as a whole was 5.1 per cent.

In the province, there were 13,500 more full-time employed people compared to last year. This comes with a minor increase in the labour force by just over 1,000 people.

The hefty full-time worker increase brings with it a decrease in part-time workers of 5,300.

This has translated to hospitality markets struggling to find workers. It also matches the national trends of people looking for more stable, better paying jobs after their work in restaurants and hotels was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But another impact of the pandemic was a large population increase in the province. This came with an increase in housing demands that construction companies have not been able to catch up to because of a lack of workers.

In the last year, New Brunswick has gained more than 15,000 people, standing at a population of 800,000.

Economic development consultant David Campbell told Information Morning Moncton that the housing industry has not had the capacity to keep up with a large population increase.

"That combined for a perfect storm," he said.

In Moncton alone, the city issued more than 200 building permits in the first quarter of this year. This accounts for a 57 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Andrew Nelson, who owns Homestead Bay construction in Moncton, has been feeling the challenge of finding enough workers to meet the demand.

"Every day I'm getting more than 10 calls from people," he said. "It all comes down to I don't have enough staff in order to meet that demand."

He said finding out how many people he needs is a tricky question, but right now he has 10 workers and is hoping to get another eight. The more workers he gets, the more work he can perform and right now "there really is no limit."

He said he's got his eye on overseas workers and brought the first three people from Brazil this year. He's planning on attracting more immigrant workers through the Atlantic Immigration Program, which fast tracks workers' permanent residency and gives employees more choice in who to sponsor.

He said in the last two years, he's seen a significant decline in the number of local people applying to work at his company.

"People may not want to work in these types of fields any longer, because it is hard work," he said.

"I can't even tell you the last time somebody from New Brunswick or from Canada applied, other than Ontario, to come work here."

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