There are a lot of folks weighing in on this so I will just give you my two cents. First off, we are talking about different data sets - one is an employer survey and one is a household survey (the LFS) so you have to be a little careful with interpretation.
But we know that there were just under 20,000 job vacancies in September 2021 across New Brunswick (sector-level vacancies for Q3 are not out yet). That is up by at least 11,000 from pre-pandemic times. A significant increase.
From the LFS we know that there are 3,200 more ‘unemployed’ persons in October 2021 compared to October 2019 - pre-pandemic and there are a couple thousand more adults who are not in the workforce at all.
When you break things down by age group, the unemployment/not in the workforce at all data for youth age 15-24 is about the same now as pre-pandemic.
If you look at the 65 age group there are nearly 11,000 more out of the workforce in October 2021 compared to two years previous. Again, this is to be expected as older NBers head into retirement. The good news is that the number of those aged 25-64 participating in the workforce has increased, much of this change coming from the growth in the immigrant workforce. There were 5,100 more immigrants in the NB workforce in October 2021 compared to October 2019, a 22% increase.
So, it looks to me like we are back to a structural gap in the New Brunswick workforce. There are 3,200 more unemployed but 11,000 more vacant jobs so even if there was perfect alignment there - a big gap would exist.
So, sounding like a broken record here, we either find more ways to boost the workforce participation rate or we attract more people to the workforce from outside the province/country.
For the first option, if New Brunswick had the national workforce participation rate it would add 28,000 to the workforce - problem more than solved (assuming alignment of skills/interest and jobs on offer).
But there are a host of reasons why reaching the national participation rate will be very hard from lack of need to work among older NBers to the seasonal workforce.
The other way is to bring in more newcomers.
I think we need to work both angles.
I agree with your analysis David. But our one big advantage used to be cheap rents/homes. With rents approaching big city pricing, why would an immigrant come to NB when they will find more opportunity, better wages and possibly support from their own community in large centres? I believe the government made a strategic mistake when it refused to control rent increases.