As written recently by Indeed Senior Economist Brendon Bernard, Canadian job seekers have less interest in some occupations, which has impacted the Canadian economy. Brendon tracks changes in interest in different fields by comparing how the number of clicks per job postings on Indeed has evolved compared to the economy-wide average. 

What is relative interest and where has it changed the most?

Relative interest (i.e. the relative job seeker interest per post on Indeed) provides a view of how job seeker interest compares to the typical job posting on Indeed. The more clicks an occupation receives, the more candidates the employer have available to fill the position. 

Since this interest is measured relative to the number of overall job postings, it can shift if more or fewer job offers are posted. In other words, if employer demand rises in a certain field faster than the rest of the economy, but its share of clicks doesn’t change, relative interest will decrease. 

Through early November 2021, relative job seeker interest on Indeed had substantially decreased in six lower-paying and non-remote fields. In most cases, the shift was caused by both the share of total job seeker clicks going to these fields, as well as outsized increases in employer demand. On the other hand, our data tells us that a variety of mid- and high-paying fields had gained in relative popularity among job seekers.

Most impacted areas

Three fields that experienced particularly large drops in relative job seeker interest were loading and stocking, cleaning and sanitation, and construction. Part of this reflects strong employer demand: after dropping early in the pandemic, job postings and hiring appetite in these areas rebounded quickly. In contrast, the share of Canadian job seeker clicks in those fields declined as job postings increased. By September 2020 and after adjusting for seasonal factors, relative interest was down 30% or more from pre-pandemic levels.

Other occupational groups also have a decrease in clicks per posting, albeit on a lower scale. Customer service has seen a gradual decline in relative interest, but they still receive more clicks than the average Canadian job ad. Overall, this field had a 10% decline in relative job seeker interest as of November 2021, while interest in retail and food preparation services decreased by 15 and 22% respectively. 

Compared to the economy-wide average, mid- and higher-paying fields have experienced relative increases in clicks per posting. The fields where relative interest grew the most were education and instruction, therapy, and IT operations and helpdesk. As of November 2021, relative interest in offers in all three has jumped at least 37% since the start of the pandemic.

Impacts of changing job seeker interest

Two patterns seem to emerge from jobs postings that have received less relative job seeker interest. First, the fields concerned generally offer lower wages. Besides construction, the average wage for those jobs is in the bottom third of all Canadian occupational groups. Second, in-person work is required for most of the positions. 

Several factors can help explain the decline in popularity in these areas. For instance, ongoing COVID-19 related risks likely raised reluctance to work onsite, helping explain the rise in relative popularity of remote-friendly occupations. 

Meanwhile, expanded jobless benefits and elevated household savings could have made some people less likely to jump at lower-paying opportunities. That said, the wind down of the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) in October 2021 didn’t immediately boost relative job seeker interest in these areas. It is possible not enough time had passed for its desired effects to occur, especially when new waves of COVID-19 remained a continuing source of uncertainty. Nevertheless, if this type of situation persists, some employers might have to start considering the adjustments they need to make to attract job seekers.

Would increasing wages impact job seekers’ interest?

Raising wages in fields where relative job seeker interest has declined is one potential solution to attract candidates. According to Statistics Canada’s Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, offered wages through the third quarter of 2021 had increased similarly to the rest of the economy for cashiers, trades helpers and construction labourers, food and beverage service workers, and retail salespersons. Meanwhile, a greater increase was seen for cleaners and workers in industrial and construction trades. Conversely, salaries for chefs and cooks, customer service representatives, and shelf stockers lagged the economy-wide average. If the changes in the balance between employer hiring appetite and job seeker interest since the start of the pandemic persist, employers struggling to fill openings will have to weigh whether greater shifts in compensation are necessary to attract workers.