Manitoba boasts lowest provincial unemployment rate in Canada: StatsCan

Manitoba ended the year with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada.

The province’s unemployment rate sat at 4.2 per cent, according to federal labour force data for December 2023. That’s well below the national average of 5.8 per cent, and lowest among provinces.

“If you’re looking for work, this is good news,” said Chuck Davidson, CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.

“I think it means more Manitobans are working.”

However, he notes low unemployment makes it harder for the employer, with a smaller pool to hire from.

Employment levels in Manitoba are even higher when broken down by age group.

Among men and women in Manitoba aged 15 to 54, the unemployment rate is about three per cent.

Davidson says that age group typically has the highest number of skilled workers.

“The reality is, we don’t have enough people here to fill the jobs that are in demand.”

The construction sector – a sizeable chunk of Manitoba’s overall labour force – is already experiencing a shallow talent pool.

“There’s lots of demand in the construction industry,” said Darryl Harrison with the Winnipeg Construction Association, whose members construct large-scale building projects.

Over the course of 2023, Manitoba’s construction industry employed just north of 56,000 workers. That’s the highest level on record going back to 2013.

Harrison expects 2024 to be similarly busy.

“Seventy-five per cent of the people who responded to our survey will be hiring more people in 2024,” he said. “Of that 75 per cent that were trying to hire, 50 per cent were finding it difficult to fill those positions.”

Incentives to build multi-family housing from multiple levels of government will add to demand for workers, Harrison notes.

On a wider scale, a loosening of Manitoba’s labour market could come in 2024.

Economic forecasts included in the provincial government’s December fiscal update showed Manitoba’s unemployment rate rising to 5.7 per cent by the second half of 2024.

The December labour report even shows some early signs of economic cooling, with the province losing about 3,000 full-time jobs, which was offset by gains in part-time employment, and losses in the number of health care workers.

“The health-care sector has seen a number of issues over the past number of years,” said Manitoba Economic Development Minister Jamie Moses

Over the course of 2023, however, the health-care sector showed signs of positive growth, boasting an increase of roughly 6,000 workers from the start to the end of the year.

Moses says the province plans to increase employment levels in the health-care sector by engaging with industry partners. He cited the health minister’s listening tours and the blue-ribbon infrastructure panel as two early examples.

“We want to work with our industry partners… to find ways to engage with them and see what their areas of need are, and find ways to train up the workers of this generation so we’re prepared for the jobs of the future.”

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