Youth Unemployment

Here’s the link to a TVO The Agenda panel I was on this Friday.  Good to put some focus on the fact that the “real” unemployment rate for young people is 20%, while the youth employment rate is down a full five percentage points from 2007.

My basic take is that it is not very surprising that youth unemployment and under employment are very high when we still have a very slack job market. Older displaced workers and seniors are grabbing what used to be considered entry level sales and service jobs, and employers generally put a large premium on experience which very much works against young people breaking into the job market.

As for solutions, I am struck by the very small scale of government interventions – just 1.5% of the 15-24 age group benefit from the job subsidies provided through the federal Youth Employment Strategy which help young people gain some work experience.

There is also some scope to create jobs for young people  if we expand spaces in those apprenticeship, college and university programs which lead to genuine employment opportunities. For example, few electricians or physiotherapists are unemployed, but there is a long waiting list to get into training programs.


  • ps .Why don’t we look at industries ie Teachers and other Government employees that are allowed to double-dip preventing the next generation to get a job.This on it’s own could create 50 to 100 thousand jobs across this Country tomorrow. However,Provincal Governments are acting again on the side of self interest groups for their vote.

  • Francis Fuller


    I would question your assertion that older workers are grabbing all of the available job vacancies. It is possible that “mature” workers in the 35 to 50 age bracket are viewed as the best candidates for many positions.

    But I suspect that seniors and near seniors in the 50 and above age bracket face as many difficulties as the youth cohort.

    I will be 60 this year, have engaged in job search since May of last year when my entire workgroup of 35 persons was terminated so that the employer could move the jobs offshore. This decision was taken when the CDN $ was at a premium to the US $ so I class myself as a victim of “Dutch Disease.”

    I have been searching for minimum wage work, for any work, and all that I get in return for my submissions is dead silence.

    Given that the population is living longer, and given Harper’s intent to change the age of eligibilty for CPP and OAS, and given the fact that even when employed many people have difficulty making ends meet, much less saving for future retirement, we are creating the groundwork for a social crisis. We are all getting older and we all need some form of income. And there are not enough bridges in the country to accomodate all of us.

  • Francis: the 55+ age group is the only one that didn’t see a dip in their employment rate during the 2008 – 2009 recession, youth aged 15-24 saw the largest dip.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any easier to find a job if you’d been laid off – displaced workers 55+ tend to have longer spells of unemployment than younger workers.

    Just because *some* over 55 workers are grabbing entry level jobs doesn’t mean there aren’t a whole lot of other over 55 workers in exactly the same boat as the under 25’s.

    This is an argument for putting resources into job training, and leaving OAS/GIS at 65.

  • Youth unemployment is a crisis…urgent action is needed.

    A good start would be setting up an advisory Counsel set up to generate an effective job creation strategy…

    Ideally including all key stakeholders youth…employers…think tanks…NGOs…gov.t….etc

  • Richard Pereira

    Youth unemployment is not a problem – it needs to be viewed and addressed differently. Youth (especially 14 – 18) should not be taking away precious study time to work for McDonald’s, Walmarts, Taco Bells and the like, and should not be slaving away at irregular shift work to earn money for excessive tuition costs, and they should not be degrading their post-secondary education so much with all this menial work (profiting mostly foreign corporations by the way).

    Students in places like Sweden, Denmark etc. are not harming their education in this way, because post-secondary education is free. Workplace injury rates are also high among youth.

    We don’t need 14, 15 and 16 year olds working in such dangerous and unhealthy environments like these:

    For older youth workers, the focus of ‘progressive’ economists should be on free post-secondary education (which is actually what Canada has signed on to decades ago), especially since one or multiple degrees and designations, certifications etc. is increasingly the requirement for young workers in today’s working world.

  • I notice that in this whole discussion it’s essentially taken for granted that it remains verboten for government to aid job creation by actually . . . creating some jobs.

  • A good first step in curbing youth unemployment would be to freeze the minimum wage. The minimum wage recently increased here in BC, and the young people I’ve talked to (17-20) have had their job prospects seriously hurt. Those who have jobs report having their hours cut back, and those who don’t report handing out 50+ resumes to get a single interview.

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