rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The value of labour market data for Indigenous workers

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Labour market data in Canada is easily available by sex, age, and region. We spend a great deal of time talking about these factors. More recently Statistics Canada made labour market data available on CANSIM by landed immigrant status, going back to 2006. This factor is less often included in most labour market analysis, and too few know that it is even available.

But if you want to know how racialized workers or Indigenous workers (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) are doing in the labour force you basically have to rely on the census … oh, wait. And on top of eliminating the census, the Harper government shut down the First Nations Statistical Institute.

So imagine my delight when a recent search on the issue turned up an article from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards about Indigenous employment that cited the Labour Force Survey as a source.

I should have already known that the Labour Force Survey asked an Aboriginal identity question, but I didn't. A quick call to Statistics Canada revealed that this data is freely available on request, but is limited to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples living off reserve (since the LFS doesn't survey persons living on reserves).

I plan on doing a more thorough analysis, but I thought that I would post a few quick insights, and get the word out so that anyone who is interested can call and get the data for themselves.

Some of this data confirms things that we "know," but having the hard numbers helps when we're calling for action. For example, unemployment is a HUGE issue for Indigenous young workers living off reserve, before, during, and after the recession. The unemployment rate reached a high of 22.5 per cent in 2009, and was still 18 per cent in 2013.

While I don't have the data to calculate underemployment, consider that underemployment rates seem to be about double unemployment rates for the general population. That suggests an underemployment rate of at least 36 per cent for Indigenous young workers in 2013.

Unemployment rates for Indigenous workers are much higher than for non-Indigenous Canadian born workers, and are comparable to that of new Canadians.

As you can tell by the graph, the recession was more severe and lasted longer for Indigenous workers and new Canadians.

So whenever we're talking about labour market strategies and good jobs, it's important to keep in mind that for some workers there are systemic barriers that need to be addressed. Hopefully access to labour market data for Indigenous workers and new Canadians can be one way that we convey the need for action.

If you want to read more about Indigenous workers and the labour market in Canada the CSLS has a study using LFS data from 2007 - 2011, the Conference Board of Canada has a more employer driven study from 2012, and a 2011 paper in Aboriginal policy studies by Friedel and Taylor analyzes the colonial discourse in Indigenous labour market development policy in Northern Alberta.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.