OTTAWA (Reuters) - The job vacancy rate in the Canadian province of Alberta edged up in the third quarter, bringing it closer to the national average and suggesting the labor market in the oil-sensitive region may be turning a corner, data showed on Wednesday.
Alberta's job vacancy rate increased to 2.3 percent from 2.2 percent in the second quarter of last year, Statistics Canada said. The number of job vacancies rose to 44,915 from 42,290.
For Canada overall, the job vacancy rate held steady at 2.5 percent. Higher vacancy rates are generally considered a sign of an active job market.
"It's pretty consistent with some more stability that we've seen in the labor market in Alberta over the last six months or so," said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
"It's another indicator ... that maybe the worst is behind the labor market in Alberta."
Still, Alberta is not out of the woods yet with the vacancy rate well below the 3.1 percent that was seen in the third quarter a year ago.
Oil-producing Alberta has been hit hard by the drop in crude prices, which put the province in a budgetary deficit and led to layoffs in the energy sector.
With prices stabilizing, economists and policymakers believe the worst of the oil shock has been seen. Alberta's unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in December from 9.0 percent the month before, though that was still above the 6.9 percent national rate.
The higher job vacancies in the third quarter were driven by more job openings in the "other services" category, which includes repair and maintenance, as well as in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
The numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama