The Young and the Jobless: New CCPA report examines youth unemployment

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Young people under the age of 24 who have long said that it's hard to find a job now have the proof to back their claims up. A new report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has found that Ontario is one of the most difficult provinces to find a job in if you're young.

The report, "The Young and the Jobless," analyzed the 2012 Statistics Canada Labour Force survey and found that youth unemployment levels are twice as high as the overall provincial youth unemployment rate.

In the report, author Sean Geobey compares youth unemployment rates to employment rates and finds that while there are many people still looking for active work throughout the province, the unemployment numbers may in fact be misleading because of an increase in young people who are in informal or unpaid work arrangements, in school or have simply given up looking for work all together. Taken together, the rates tell a story of a large, silent population of young people who are not involved in the job market.

Particularly hard hit are young people without any postsecondary education, though those with advanced degrees also had comparable youth unemployment levels.

In Toronto, less than half of people 24-15 are employed, a phenomenon that could be explained by the large amount of internships offered in the area and the amount of immigration, both within Canada and outside of it, to the Greater Toronto Area. Geobey points out in the report however there is no firm evidence that any of these explain why Toronto youth are experiencing such high levels of unemployment.

Meanwhile, areas that relied on manufacturing as a major job source have seen rising unemployment rates, indicative of a trend all over Canada. However, Thunder Bay and Sudbury have seen improvement that can be credited in part to a rise in the importance of resource extraction, like mining, to the Canadian economy.

Areas that have research-intensive industries such as information technology and biotech also have lower unemployment rates for young people. In Waterloo, Hamilton and Ottawa these industries are growing and have led to a stronger employment rate overall. As well, young people who have post secondary certificate or diploma have a better overall employment rate than those who have bachelor or advanced degrees.

Geobey calls on the provincial government to step up to the task of creating youth employment opportunities. While the recently announced Youth Employment Fund is certainly a step in the right direction, he points out that the countries with lowest youth unemployment rates, such as Austria, Japan and Germany all have competitive and well structured apprenticeship or co-operative education programs.

"Greater investment in programming along these lines can increase the responsiveness of both the labour market and the education system to economic means," he writes, "while at the same time providing more educational experiences." 

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