Issues: Youth Unemployment Rate of 19.5% Is Highest On Record

By on February 19, 2017
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By David Murray. I was alarmed to see that the Bureau of Labour Statistics reported that the youth unemployment rate in Canada was 19.5% .This was the highest rate ever recorded. This coming March 2017 does not look any better.

Youth unemployment


With British Columbia already having the second highest unemployment rate for all ages in Canada , and this is while giving Big Business the lowest corporate tax breaks in Canada and the United States. Obviously big tax breaks do not help stimulate the economy or create jobs.

Things are tough in B.C. and our young people are really suffering. This economy is perpetuating a lot of this “Take Back Wall Street” mentality that a lot of well off people can’t understand. My dad rode a freight train from 1930-39 looking for work in Canada. If it wasn’t for the Second World War who knows how long the depression would have lasted.

The youth unemployment rate includes people aged 16-24, and was first tracked in 1948.

Based on the numbers released by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, many young people will not be able to afford to attend school this coming year. The number of young people employed in the month of January was just 51.4%, which is the lowest January rate on record. January is traditionally the peak month for youth unemployment, due to the fact that many youths have been off from school for 3 or 4 months. And a lot of companies lay off after Christmas.

The January 2017 unemployment rate for young men was 20.7%, while the unemployment rate for young women was 18.3%.

The youth unemployment rate in Canada has spiked dramatically since 2008, due to the disintegration of the overall job market. The youth unemployment rate was 10.8% in January of 2008, meaning that we have witnessed a near 9% increase over just two years.

How does our current January youth unemployment rate compare to rates posted during previous recessions?

In 1982, when the Canada was battling high unemployment rates and inflation, the January youth unemployment rate was 17.3%.

In 1992, when Canada was dealing with a major slowdown in the economy, the January youth unemployment rate was 14.5%.

The last time that the youth unemployment rate was below 10% was 2000, which was at the height of the dot-com boom.

The lowest youth unemployment rate on record for the month of January 5.7%, which was posted in January of 1953. That number seems almost ridiculously low given our current economic troubles.

Working in BC at McDonalds for $1.75 less than in NewFoundland

The industry that employed the highest number of youths in January of 2016 was Leisure & Hospitality, followed closely by Retail Trade. Leisure & Hospitality includes food services, which would include all of the people working at places like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Burger King. (In British Columbia where we have the highest cost of living in Canada-we offer our children one of the lowest minimum wage rates in Canada)
McDonalds workers for example get $1.75 per hour more , yet the hamburgers are the same price.

It’s certainly not surprising that the youth unemployment rate is spiking. Many companies have had to cut back due to the “Great Recession”, which means that many young people have been unable to find jobs. There are few industries that are thriving right now, and even fewer that can accommodate millions of unemployed youth workers.

High youth unemployment results in a greater need for student loans, an increased burden on the average Canadian household and less youths being able to afford post-secondary education. Some students are on waiting lists for three years to get into some courses as well. (that is a different story-which I will talk about at a later date) All three of these issues have a dramatic impact on the overall health of the nation over the long-term.

Given the current state of the economy, the prospects for a major dip in the youth unemployment rate over the next couple of years seems pretty slim. I suspect that the overall unemployment rate will remain fairly high in Canada for the foreseeable future, which doesn’t help the job prospects of those between the ages of 16-24 going forward.

Sources: Bureau of Canadian Labour Statistics

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