TORONTO - Canada's youth are more likely to be working or seeking an education than many of their counterparts in other G7 nations, the country's leading statistical agency suggested Wednesday.
A new study from Statistics Canada analyzed the working and educational paths of people aged 15 to 29 in a bid to assess youth engagement with the labour force.
The study found that 13 per cent of the 6.8 million Canadians in the age bracket were not in education, employment or training — a measurement known as NEET.
That score, which has remained almost flat for the past two decades, is the second lowest among G7 nations, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Only Germany boasts a lower NEET rating of 11.6 per cent, while Italy registered the highest rating of 21.2 per cent.
Study author Katherine Marshall said the NEET indicator has been an effective way of measuring youth engagement in Europe since the 1990s, but is relatively new to North American analysts.
Large numbers of youth who are neither pursuing an education nor working can signal broader systemic issues that prevent youth from fully participating in society as they age, she said, adding Canada's score paints a fairly rosy picture.
"The Canadian NEET youth population is really quite diverse and is not entirely negative even though NEET in general has a negative connotation," Marshall said in a telephone interview.
Many of those who do not pursue educational or employment opportunities are addressing other priorities such as raising a family, Marshall said, adding 57 per cent of NEET youth said they were not actively trying to enter the labour force.
Of that group, between 65 and 70 per cent were females over 20, the study said.
People who fall into this category generally do not give analysts pause, Marshall said, adding long-term unemployment trends are the more telling indicators of youth labour engagement.
In that respect, Marshall said Canada is faring extremely well. Only 55,000 young people _ or one per cent of the country's entire youth population _ said they had been seeking work for more than six months, giving Canada the lowest rate of long-term unemployed youth in the G7.
Men in their 20s have the hardest time finding work, the survey said, adding they account for 200,000 of the 391,000 NEET youth who are seeking a job.
Odds of landing a position increased greatly for those with post-secondary education, Marshall said. The likelihood of finding work jumped by two-thirds for those with a university degree.
"The higher the level of education, the more likely you are to be employed," she said.
This finding was echoed in a new study from BMO Bank of Montreal, which found 70 per cent of businesses specifically look for a university background when hiring.
Education remains a fairly high priority for Canada's non-NEET youth, Marshall said, adding the remaining 87 per cent of the country's youth are equally divided between those who are working and those who are in school.
Youth Unemployment In Canada
The red line on this graph from StatsCan plots the unemployment rate for Canadians between 15 and 24 years old. Youth unemployment in Canada this summer is around <a href="http://www.financialpost.com/personal-finance/young-money/joblessness+normal+grads/4929608/story.html" target="_hplink">double the national rate</a>, at 14 per cent.
Youth Unemployment By Region
Barrie has <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/jobs/canadian-youth-unemployment-rates/article2064041/" target="_hplink">one of the highest rates</a> of youth unemployment in the country at 25.4 per cent. Regina is one of the lowest at 9.5 per cent. This chart shows unemployment rates by region from 1996 to 2003.
UK Youth Unemployment Hits Record
By November 2010, youth unemployment rates in the UK had reached 20.3 per cent. It's the highest level of youth unemployment in the UK since they started keeping records in 1992.
EU Youth Unemployment Rates
Youth unemployment in the European Union was just above 20 per cent by the second quarter of 2011. Unemployment in the EU for people between the ages of 15 and 24 peaked at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010.
U.S. Youth Joblessness Near All-Time Peaks
In July 2010, the rate of youth unemployment in the U.S. reached 19.1 per cent, which was the highest July on record. In contrast, the youth unemployment rate in 2006 was 11.2 per cent, in 2002 it was 12.4 per cent, in 1998 it was 10.8 per cent and in 1994 it was 12.6 per cent.
International Youth Unemployment Rates
Comparatively with other countries, Canada<a href="http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2011/06/13/is-canadas-youth-unemployment-really-so-bad/" target="_hplink"> isn't doing the worst</a> when it comes to the youth unemployment rate. 24 per cent of Sweden's youth are unemployed and Italy is at 29 per cent. In Spain, it's a staggering 44 per cent. Germany is only at 8.1 per cent, but students in that country attend university full-time and don't pay tuition.