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Construction tradesmen build portable housing for oil sands workers at the ATCO Structures facility in Calgary earlier this year.

Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

Hiring trends in Canada have been patchy this year, but a new survey shows demand for labour is mushrooming in some parts of the country.

Canadian businesses had 263,000 job openings this summer, an increase from last year as demand grew for miners and construction workers.

The number of vacancies was 20,000 higher in June than in the same month last year, according to Statistics Canada's quarterly job vacancy survey, a relatively new measure that tracks changes in demand in the country's labour market.

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It finds there were 5.3 unemployed people for every job vacancy, down from 5.8 last year. The drop in this ratio was due to more job vacancies and fewer jobless people.

The fiercest competition for jobs appears to be in Newfoundland and Labrador, where there were 10.6 unemployed people for every vacancy. By contrast in Alberta, there were 1.6 unemployed for every job vacancy.

Statscan also tracks job vacancy rates, which corresponds to the share of jobs that are unfilled out of all payroll jobs available. Higher job vacancy rates tend to reflect periods of economic growth, while lower rates are associated with periods of slower growth or economic contraction.

By that measure, Alberta has the highest rate, suggesting the number of job openings available is outpacing overall labour demand. Nova Scotia has the lowest. (See related chart)

By industry, demand is most robust in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, along with construction industries. Forestry and education have lower rates.

It's more evidence that job-seekers would do well to look West.

In a separate report Tuesday, the Conference Board of Canada predicted the resource-rich economies of Edmonton and Calgary will be the fastest-growing cities in the country – not only in 2012, but for the next four years.

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