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  • 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) Organizational Responses Canadian Centre for Policy […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Boots Riley in Winnipeg May 11 February 22, 2019
    Founder of the political Hip-Hop group The Coup, Boots Riley is a musician, rapper, writer and activist, whose feature film directorial and screenwriting debut — 2018’s celebrated Sorry to Bother You — received the award for Best First Feature at the 2019 Independent Spirit Awards (amongst several other accolades and recognitions). "[A] reflection of the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA-BC welcomes Emira Mears as new Associate Director February 11, 2019
    This week the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office is pleased to welcome Emira Mears to our staff team as our newly appointed Associate Director. Emira is an accomplished communications professional, digital strategist and entrepreneur. Through her former company Raised Eyebrow, she has had the opportunity to work with many organizations in the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Study explores media coverage of pipeline controversies December 14, 2018
    Supporters of fossil fuel infrastructure projects position themselves as friends of working people, framing climate action as antithetical to the more immediately pressing need to protect oil and gas workers’ livelihoods. And as the latest report from the CCPA-BC and Corporate Mapping Project confirms, this framing has become dominant across the media landscape. Focusing on pipeline […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Study highlights ‘uncomfortable truth’ about racism in the job market December 12, 2018
    "Racialized workers in Ontario are significantly more likely to be concentrated in low-wage jobs and face persistent unemployment and earnings gaps compared to white employees — pointing to the “uncomfortable truth” about racism in the job market, according to a new study." Read the Toronto Star's coverage of our updated colour-coded labour market report, released […]
    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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