Fewer Canadians Are Quitting Their Jobs, and That’s Usually Bad News For Wages

Fewer Canadians quit their job due to satisfaction last month, and it’s bad news for wages. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows job quits due to dissatisfaction fell in September. It might sound like a good thing, but this often indicates a lack of confidence in the employment market. Falling quits means employers are in control, typically putting a drag on wage growth.

Employees Quitting Is A Sign They’re In Control

Today we’re looking at the number of Canadian adults that quit their job due to dissatisfaction. Not due to retirement, disability, health, or retraining — just job dissatisfaction. You’re probably thinking, “isn’t quitting due to dissatisfaction a bad thing?”

It’s generally the opposite. Workers are dissatisfied for a lot of reasons, but often won’t quit due to a fear of the open market. To quit due to dissatisfaction, a worker needs to be comfortable enough to do so. During an employment boom or high job vacancies, this number typically rises. If you’re confident you can find something better, there’s no need to line it up first. This is when employees are in control, and can drive wages higher. 

The opposite is also true, where fewer people quitting means lower confidence. People aren’t more satisfied, but less confident in their ability to find a new gig. This gets further confirmation if a market has rising job vacancies, and low wage growth. In this environment, employees aren’t in charge — employers are.

Canadians Quitting Their Job Due To Dissatisfaction Is Unusually Low

Canadians quitting due to dissatisfaction is falling to a very low level. Only 103,700 people quit for this reason in September, down 2.1% from the month before. It was also 9.0% lower than the same month a year before, which was already very low. The last September to report a lower number was all the way back in 1996.

Canadians Quitting Due To Dissatisfaction

The number of Canadians that have quit their job due to dissastifaction.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Canadian Employees Might Feel Less Empowered Than Their Neighbors To The South

The trend of falling quits has been strangely low since the beginning of the pandemic in Canada. There’s been some recovery as you can see above, rising from the multi-decade low hit in November 2020. Before 2020, quits for dissatisfaction haven’t been this low since the mid-90s.

The trend is particularly odd when job vacancies are soaring and wages haven’t increased. Rising job vacancies often produce higher wages, but wages are barely moving. It doesn’t appear employees have that kind of power in the current environment. 

The trend is the opposite of what’s been happening in the US over the past few months. American economists have dubbed the current environment “the Great Resignation.” Rapidly escalating pay and job vacancies has sparked a near-record number of quits in the country.

In Canada, vacancies are escalating but wages have barely moved, relatively speaking. Few people are willing to leave their current gig, so the competition is limited. Notably higher debt loads than their neighbors to the South, might have something to do with it.

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  • Craig 3 years ago

    Why would anyone quit their job or any employer raise wages with the Liberals promising to bring in 400,000 plus new potential workers annually.

  • SH 3 years ago

    You know what else is bad for Canadian wages?

    400,000+ newcomers every year (+ foreign students, + TFWs) as per the Liberal Party’s vote bank, er immigration, policy.

  • Alex 3 years ago

    The reason wages aren’t rising as they are in the US is because CERB took away a lot of that demand for higher wages by acting as an income subsidy for many. As CERB ends this month, if inflation continues its trajectory, you will certainly see job seekers asking for more at the table.

    In regards to job dissatisfaction, productivity in many sectors in Canada has fallen off of a cliff – unless of course you work in real estate. I reckon most employees right now are basically sweeping the roof at their jobs hence why they can’t be bothered to quit and find another.

  • D 3 years ago

    That’s because jobs aren’t plenty and most of those job listings on indeed are for HR reps doing pointless work but we all know companies aren’t hiring. It’s fun seeing an entry level position requiring 5 years experience with over 5000 applicant submissions. Quitting your job now is guaranteeing yourself no employment for a few years.

  • D 3 years ago

    Privatize profits, socialize losses.

  • Ike 3 years ago

    That just sounds like slavery with extra steps

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