Canada ahead of other G7 nations on youth unemployment

Andy Radia
Canada PoliticsMay 23, 2012

Student protesters in Quebec, rejoice: things aren't nearly as bad as they seem.

According to a Statistics Canada study-- the first of its kind in the country -- 13.3 per cent, or 904,000, of the 6.8 million Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 weren't in school nor at work last year.

While the unemployment figure may seem high, it's the second-lowest percentage out of all the  G-7 countries just behind Germany (11.6 per cent).

In terms of the labour force, Canada had 391,000 youth looking for work. Most of those not in the labour force said that they didn't want a job (82 per cent).

Another good news story for Canada is our long-term youth unemployment rate.  According to Kathrerine Marshall, an analyst with StatsCan, only 55,000 young people had been looking for work for more than six months.

"These long-term unemployed represented 1 per cent of all youth and 14 per cent of unemployed youth," Marshall told the Globe and Mail.

"This was the lowest proportion of long-term unemployed young people among the G7 nations."

Despite the relatively rosy numbers, however, critics charge that federal and provincial governments have ignored  youth unemployment trends and have instead focused on an all-ages approach.

"The government ... would say they're giving [more money] to laid off people. They would say that we're addressing the problem. But my argument is that youth unemployment is the worst, and what's the government doing to address that?" Nancy Schaefer, president of the Toronto-based Youth Employment Services (YES) told the Huffington Post last year.

"I don't think the youth of [Ontario] are being well-served under this model."

Other, like Ken Lewenza of the Canadian Autoworkers' union (CAW)  believe its time for a national jobs summit to develop a national strategy.

"Young people are not able to find jobs in this economy and the federal government must do more to ensure our youth secure decent full time jobs," Lewenza said in a statement earlier this month.

"The federal government must show a lot more leadership on the stubborn issue of youth unemployment in Canada."

Percentage of youth who don't go to school or work in the G7 countries:

Germany: 11.6 per cent

Canada: 13.3 per cent

France: 15.6 per cent

United Kingdom: 15.6 per cent

United States: 16.9 per cent

Italy: 21.2 per cent