May marks the start of summer jobs season, making it an important time for young people looking for work. But according to the latest jobs report, last month brought more pain to the young and unemployed, who continue to face jobless rates that have barely budged since the depths of the recession.
As recent grads took their first steps into the job market, Statistics Canada data shows that the unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 25 hit 14.3 per cent in May, up 0.4 per cent over April. The number of people with jobs in this group, meanwhile, was down 1.8 per cent over the same time last year.
“Youth employment is roughly at the same level as in July 2009, when the labour market downturn hit a low,” Statistics Canada observed on Friday.
Student employment was likewise bleak. Of those aged 20 to 24 who plan to return to school in the fall, 58.9 per cent were in a job in May. That’s down from 60.8 per cent last year, but up over May 2009, when that figure sunk to 56.3 per cent.
“[Youth unemployment] is a nagging concern,” Doug Porter, Bank of Montreal’s deputy chief economist, told The Huffington Post.
“The last thing you want is a whole generation that has trouble catching up with the labour market and potentially seeing their newly minted skills erode. It’s important for the long-term health of the economy to get new people into the labour force with new skills and a different perspective.”
As Porter points out, youth participation in the labour force has declined significantly in recent years, dropping by about 180,000 since September 2008, an indication that those who can’t find jobs have either gone back to school, or stopped looking altogether.
That is of great concern to Angella MacEwen, senior economist for the Canadian Labour Congress.
Though MacEwen says it’s not uncommon for youth to drop out of the labour force during economic downturns, she says the recent numbers show that trend has been “prolonged.”
“People who went back to school two years ago have maybe finished an education, and there still isn’t a job for them,” she said.
MacEwen added: “It is a real crisis for youth. It has serious implications for them and for the whole economy, because when the baby boomers do retire in 10 years, we won’t have this trained workforce to kind of slide into those positions, because they’re not being hired and trained right now.”
As MacEwen observes, when those who have stopped looking for work and are waiting for a job to start are factored into the equation, youth unemployment is nearly 23 per cent, which she refers to as “the real unemployment rate.”
On Friday, Ken Lewenza, national president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, decried “stubborn high unemployment” among youth and some other demographic groups.
“The federal government must take heed of these job trends and take action to help all Canadians, including our youth, find secure, decent full time jobs,” Lewenza said in a press release.
The Conference Board of Canada, too, called attention to the plight of jobless youth on Friday, noting that “young people continue to face a challenging environment when it comes to finding work.”
When it comes to the long-term outlook, Porter maintains that the youth employment picture isn’t as dire as it may seem.
“By no means is the job market incredibly strong, but there are pockets of strength, there are industries that are doing well, and there are certain regions that are doing well,” he said. “I don’t at all think that young people should lose hope.”
He says a youth unemployment rate of 14.3 per cent is “almost exactly in line with the 30 year average.”
But MacEwen says that is cold comfort to the young and jobless, who are carrying much higher levels of student debt and face house prices that have tripled in the last 30 years.
“What you might see is people taking jobs in order just to pay off their student loans, and never really recovering to where they would have been otherwise,” she said.
That concern is top-of-mind for Connie Chan, who recently graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in radio and television arts -- and $20,000 in student loans.
Despite completing six internships over the course of her degree, and applying to countless jobs in recent months, Chan’s search for a job in her field has so far come up short.
As the clock winds down until she has to start making loan repayments, Chan, who has moved back in with her parents, says she will soon have to consider other options.
“Right now it’s a waiting game. If I don’t hear anything [in a month], I’m going to start applying for retail jobs,” says the 21-year-old. “I’ve come to the conclusion that that might be the only way to sustain a living.”
7. Huge Regional Disparities
Wood Mountain (includes oil rich Fort McMurray, pictured here) saw its employment level shoot up by 95% over the 2000 to 2011 period, while forestry based Miramichi suffered the biggest decline of 63% in job numbers.<br> <br> Two out of 33 Census Metropolitan Areas (Windsor and Thunder Bay) had fewer jobs in 2011 than in 2000 while 13 of 45 smaller cities were in this situation. In 2011, only 5.5% of the labour force in Wood Mountain were unemployed while 16.4% were unemployed in Miramichi.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>
6. Jobs Up, Wages Down
The unemployment rate jumped from a near record low of 6.1% in October 2008 to a high of 8.7% high in August 2009 and has declined slowly since then to 7.2% in March 2012. In spite of the recovery, unemployment duration increased again in 2011.<br> <br> There was a another slight decrease in the number of discouraged job searchers in 2011, who just quit looking because they believed that nothing suitable was available, but their numbers were still 50% above pre-recession levels. Actual hours worked at all jobs advanced to 36.4 hours in 2011 up 24 minutes from the all-time low of 36 hours in 2009.<br> <br> Real (after removing inflation) average weekly wages fell by 0.5% in 2011 following an increase of only 0.2% in 2010. This helps explain why the number of workers who have more than one job climbed for a third straight year to a record 5.4% in 2011. Women (6.4%) are now more likely to have a second job than are men (4.5%) while both were the same (4.6%) in 1989.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>
5. Bad News For Working Parents
In 2011, the employment rate for lone-parent mothers (55%), lone-parent fathers (79%) and mothers with an employed husband present (70%) all with children under the age of six continued to be below their prerecession peaks. The only exception in 2011 was for women with a non-employed husband for whom the employment rate (53%) was above the pre-recession rate.<br> <br> The "monetary" value of childcare remains undervalued. In 2011, childcare and home support workers working full-time (30 hours or more per week) earned an average of $598 per week. This was the third lowest behind full-time chefs and cooks ($545) and retail sales persons ($589). On a more detailed level, babysitters, nannies and parent helpers were the lowest paid occupation from among over 700 occupations in the 2006 Census.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>
4. Manufacturing Still Struggling
After eight years of decline, the manufacturing sector created only 15,900 jobs in 2011. Employment in 2011 was about where it was in 1993 and down by 532,200 jobs since the peak in 2004.<br> <br> Based on employment growth over the 2000 to 2011 period, the most rapidly expanding industries in Canada were mining and oil and gas extraction (+70.3%) and construction (+56.4%). Other leading growth industries (all service related) included professional, scientific, technical services (+39.9%), health care and social assistance (+37.9%) and real estate and leasing (+30.1%). <br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>
3. Labour Shortages
For 2011 as a whole, eight (35%) out of the 23 major occupations were in a shortage situation, compared to six occupations in the previous year but still much less than the 10 occupations before the recession began. When examined from an industry basis, there were shortages in five (25%) of the 20 sectors in 2011, up from four during the previous year. <br> <br> In 2011, the unemployment rate among professional occupations in health, nurse supervisors and registered nurses stood at only 0.8%. Unemployment was only 1.9% in technical, assisting and related occupations in health and in professional occupations in business and finance. Demographics point to more shortages in the medium-term.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>
2. Alberta - The Youth Job-Bringer
Based on a ranking of 10 youth related indicators, Alberta was the best place for youth in 2011 followed by Saskatchewan in 2nd spot and Quebec in 3rd spot. Next in line were Manitoba (4th), Prince Edward Island (5th), British Columbia (6th), Ontario (7th), New Brunswick (8th), Newfoundland (9th) and Nova Scotia (10th).<br> <br> At the national level, recession is still the reality for youth. Youth employment plummeted by 195,400 jobs in 2009 and 2010 combined but only 19,300 jobs came back in 2011. In 2011, employment rates for all youth slipped further to 55.4% (lowest since 2000), was flat for returning students working in the summer (53.8%) but down a lot for full-time students who were working during the school year (36.6%). <br> <br> In 2011, the unemployment rate improved slightly for all youth (14.2%) but worsened for returning students working in the summer (17.4%).<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>
1. A Greying Workforce
More and more seniors are working longer. The percentage of those aged 60-64 who are employed rose from 34% in 1989 to 47% in 2011 ... a new record. The percentage of those aged 65-69 who are still working jumped from 11% in 1989 to 23% in 2011 ... another new record. The percentage of the 70 and over group who are still working increased to 6% in 2011 ... one more record high. <br> <br> Over the 1989 to 2011 period, the labour force aged 45-54 more than doubled (+108%), those aged 55-64 also more than doubled (+133%) while those aged 65 and older grew even faster (+180%). <br> <br> The recession delayed retirement for many, as record numbers of persons 60 and older remained in the paid workforce. The median retirement age among men (63.2 years) rose for a third consecutive year in 2011 and was the highest since 2003. The median age of retirement among women increased to 61.4 years in 2011 and is the second highest since 1994.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>