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  • A critical look at BC’s new tax breaks and subsidies for LNG May 7, 2019
    The BC government has offered much more to the LNG industry than the previous government. Read the report by senior economist Marc Lee.  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver April 30, 2019
    The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver is $19.50/hour. This is the amount needed for a family of four with each of two parents working full-time at this hourly rate to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Time to regulate gas prices in BC and stop industry gouging April 29, 2019
    Drivers in Metro Vancouver are reeling from record high gas prices, and many commentators are blaming taxes. But it’s not taxes causing pain at the pump — it’s industry gouging. Our latest research shows that gas prices have gone up by 55 cents per litre since 2016 — and the vast majority of that increase […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA welcomes Randy Robinson as new Ontario Director March 27, 2019
    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is pleased to announce the appointment of Randy Robinson as the new Director of our Ontario Office.  Randy’s areas of expertise include public sector finance, the gendered rise of precarious work, neoliberalism, and labour rights. He has extensive experience in communications and research, and has been engaged in Ontario’s […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 2019 Federal Budget Analysis February 27, 2019
    Watch this space for response and analysis of the federal budget from CCPA staff and our Alternative Federal Budget partners. More information will be added as it is available. Commentary and Analysis  Aim high, spend low: Federal budget 2019 by David MacDonald (CCPA) Budget 2019 fiddles while climate crisis looms by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood (CCPA) Budget hints at priorities for upcoming […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Millennials, School, and Work

Given that the 2014 Federal Budget talked a lot about youth unemployment, but didn’t actually do very much, I thought it would be worth going over a few trends for the 20-29 age group.

Young workers are usually hit harder by recessions, and this most recent recession was no different. You can see significant spikes in unemployment rates during recessions in the graph below. Also notice that unemployment rates were much higher in the 1981 and 1990 recessions than they are for this one.

That doesn’t mean that everything is OK now. Alongside trends in unemployment rates are changing contexts. Higher post-secondary participation rates should be expected to dampen unemployment rates, for example.

So did millennials head back to school in large numbers? Throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, 20-24 year old men and women increased full-time education participation significantly. In this recession it looks like some youth pushed out of the labour force went back to school, but certainly not in the numbers of the past two recessions.

For the younger group, 20-24, there was a slight bump for women (38% in 2008 to 40% in 2013), and a larger bump for men (31% in 2008 to 35% in 2013). For 25-29 year olds, full-time school participation increased through the 1990’s, but has remained fairly steady since 2000 at around 10% of the population.

So what proportion of youth were neither in school or in the labour force? As you might expect, this metric has changed for young women much more than it has for young men.

This group, and the precariously employed and underemployed group are of particular concern. This is where young workers are falling through the cracks, and risk long term wage scarring, based largely on whether they were lucky enough, connected enough, privileged enough to score a good job out of school.

This is one mechanism through which inequality is reproduced and extended – unequal economic outcomes have broad social consequences.

As always, it’s useful to note that Canada is not a single labour market. Opportunities vary widely by region. Using Google charts I made a map of young worker underemployment by province. Ontario and BC have rates similar to the Atlantic provinces, and well above Quebec and Manitoba.

Whatever the federal government does or doesn’t do, the provincial governments have significant responsibilities in the areas of education, eliminating the exploitation of young workers in unpaid internships, implementing worker-friendly labour law, and leading regional economic development.

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