Randy Hatfield said youth unemployment is approaching levels seen in the poorer parts of Europe.
"The ticking time bomb in my opinion is youth unemployment," said Hatfield, the executive director of the Saint John Human Development Council.
Hatfield spoke in Moncton on Saturday at a summit on poverty. He said youth unemployment for people under the age of 24 has reached 20 per cent. That's a jump of 5 per cent in just one year. Hatfield said that number doesn't include young people who've already left the province.
18-year-old Morgan Wilbur was surprised by the numbers. She thought the number would be much higher because she's been looking for work for months.
"I have been actually since June and I don't know, it's not going over too well," said Wilbur. "I've been applying all across Moncton."
Wilbur lives on her own and has had part-time jobs at call centres and at Crystal Palace. But those jobs didn't pay her enough and she's had to depend on the food bank.
That's not what she expected growing up in Moncton.
"I never expected to be really, really well off, like make a lot of money or anything, but I didn't expect to be scrounging for the bare minimum," said Wilbur.
Wilbur says she can't leave for Ontario or Alberta because she hasn't been able to save the money to do that.
"Hopefully I can eventually get out of here."