Dude, where’s my job?

The real unemployment rate for Canadians over 25 was 8.8% in April. Not great, for sure, but slightly better than it was in 2009.

For youth 15-24, it was up from last April – to 20.9% – so more than 1 in 5 youth are looking for work and can’t find it. In Ontario, it’s closer to 1 in 4, and in PEI it’s 1 in 3.

If we look at the participation rate of youth aged 20 to 24, we see that it’s actually fallen by 2 percentage points since the trough of the recession in July 2009. During the recovery, young people have been leaving the labour force.

The employment rate for the 20 – 24 age group in April 2013 was exactly the same as the employment rate in July 2009, and 4 percentage points lower than in October 2008. That represents a gap of nearly 100,000 jobs.

Considering the growing number of unpaid internships, which the U of T Student’s Union recently pegged as high as 300,000, the labour market is not a friendly place for young workers.

To top off the dismal labour market, our social safety net is failing young workers too. Only 13% of unemployed youth aged 15-24 qualified for EI in 2012. As usual, the coverage is worse for women who are more likely to be found in precarious employment. Only 7% of unemployed young women qualified for EI in 2012.


Angella MacEwen is a Senior Economist at Canadian Labour Congress and a Research Associate at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

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