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Labour Supply Challenges the New Reality for Atlantic Employers

Date: January 14, 2020


HALIFAX (January 14, 2020) – About 50% of Atlantic businesses, according to recent surveys, report challenges with recruitment and retention of staff. This should not be a surprise, given the region’s demographic trends and declining unemployment rates with this new reality expected to persist, requiring employers to learn how to adjust, according to APEC’s January 2020 Report Card.

“We should not be surprised that employers are finding it harder to fill their labour needs,” says APEC President & CEO, David Chaundy. “In 1990, there were 20 new workers entering the region’s labour market for every ten retiring; now there are only seven.”

These labour challenges primarily reflect demographic shifts, due to low fertility rates and outmigration of young people, accentuated by the large cohort of baby boomers that continue to move into retirement. Since 2015, there have been more deaths than births in Atlantic Canada. Without net in-migration, the region’s population would be shrinking.   

Low and declining unemployment rates, especially in the region’s cities, a rising number of job vacancies, higher immigration and gains in wages, are all consistent with employer reports of labour challenges.

“Effectively responding to this situation is critical because labour and skill shortages can lead to a loss of output and slower economic growth, higher operating costs, lower productivity and stifled innovation, and can accentuate fiscal pressures,” says Chaundy.

APEC’s report emphasizes that there is no single solution to the region’s labour challenge. Employers are already responding in a number of ways, including prioritizing the development of a people strategy, with competitive wages and benefits and flexible employment practices. Companies are also turning to immigration, hiring under-represented groups, collaborating on skills training and development, and investing in technology and automation. 

To obtain a copy of the Report Card or to arrange an interview with David Chaundy, please contact:

Erica Parrill
Communications & Events Manager
Atlantic Provinces Economic Council
m: 902.877-2159
o: 902.422.6516

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