More Young Workers Give Up Hope

November 7, 2014

Despite the positive signs in the most recent labour force survey from Statistics Canada, the picture for the next generation remains bleak.

“Last month, another 26,000 young workers gave up looking for a job and left the labour market. If you look at the jobs that our economy has created for these young people over the past year, you’ll see more part-time than full-time work. We need to do better for the next generation,” says Hassan Yussuff.

It’s been five years since the last recession and Canada still has nearly 360,000 young people who want to work but can’t find the job they need. Yussuff says the need for a National Jobs Plan is beyond obvious.

One-third of young workers are employed part-time—and many are in low wage, temporary, and otherwise insecure employment—with a large contingent located in the notoriously insecure retail and service sector. Too many young workers are underemployed—either unable to secure enough hours of work or lost on the margins of the labour force. For October 2014, we calculate that one in four young workers were underemployed.

At the same time employers continue to raise the issue of a skills gap, which in most cases is simply an ‘experience gap’. As both employers and government have cut back paid internships and on the job training for young workers, expect that experience gap to grow larger.

“Canadians expect their federal government to tackle the big issues like chronic underemployment and the failure of our country’s labour market to create enough permanent full-time jobs. We need a jobs plan, not a communications plan – we need action and our young people need jobs,” says Yussuff.


Employment was up by 43,000, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.5%. Even though employment has grown considerably in the past two months, total employment over the past year has only grown by 1%, and over half of job growth in the past year has been in part-time work. The public sector acted as a drag on growth as it shed nearly 54,000 jobs in October. Another sign of weakness is the slow growth in hours worked, up just 0.4 percent year-over-year.

Job quality continues to be a concern, as most of the employment growth this month was centred in retail and self-employment.

Compared to last October, the unemployment rate has fallen from 7.0% to 6.5%. The underemployment rate calculated by the Canadian Labour Congress fell by less, from 13.1% last October to 12.8% this October. This is consistent with the Bank of Canada`s view that there is still significant slack in the Canadian labour market.

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The unemployment rate for young workers fell from 13.5% to 12.6%, only because 26,000 young workers left the labour market. For young workers who are new Canadians (5 years or less), the unemployment rate rose to 21% in October. Overall, young workers added 20,000 part-time jobs and lost 15,000 full-time jobs in October. The underemployment rate for workers 15-24 remained high at 24.6%. These are signs that we need a solid plan to get good jobs for young workers.

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