Five years after the global economic meltdown, youth employment levels remain significantly depressed, tracking much lower than the national average.
As with previous recessions, Ontario’s youngest workers were dealt the toughest blow. They experienced higher levels of unemployment during the recession and their employment numbers were not only worse than adult employment numbers, they took a nosedive.
The big story is that five years after the Great Recession, youth remain largely shut out of Ontario’s slow economic recovery. The Help Wanted signs might have re-emerged, but Ontario’s young workers find themselves on the outside looking in — and the province’s current youth employment strategy isn’t fast enough nor robust enough to turn things around.
This report examines lingering post-recession youth joblessness in On- tario. It focuses on labour market trends that impact Ontarians aged 15–24. A detailed analysis of the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey reveals On- tario’s youth continue to suffer from unemployment levels that are twice as high as the overall provincial unemployment level. In terms of unemploy- ment, Ontario is competing with the Maritime provinces for being the tough- est place in Canada for youth to land a job.
Among the report’s key findings:
In 2013, the unemployment rate for Ontario youth aged 15-24 fluctuated between 16% and 17.1%, trending above the Canadian range of 13.5% to 14.5% and placing Ontario as the worst province outside Atlantic Canada for high youth unemployment.
The employment gap between youth and older workers in Ontario is now at an all-time high, with only one in two youth fortunate enough to be holding down a paying job.
Windsor, Oshawa, Brantford and London stand out as youth unemployment hotspots: their youth unemployment rate is over 20%, similar to the European Union rates.
Toronto’s youth employment rate – the measure that determines how many youth actually have jobs – is 43.5%. That’s the worst employment rate of any Ontario region and it may be driving some youth out of the province in search of work.
Toronto also gets the prize for having the largest gap between youth and adult employment in the province, at 21.8%. That’s the highest it’s ever been.
Why Do Ontario Youth Fare so Poorly?
Two related economic changes over the past decade — one national and one provincial — may help explain why Ontario’s youth employment has per- formed so poorly compared to elsewhere in the country, and compared to adults within the province.
The first economic change relates to the national economic shift away from manufacturing towards resource extraction. Though at the nation- al political level there is contentious debate, evidence of ‘Dutch Disease’ (where resource exports push up the Canadian dollar and consequently make manufacturing exports more expensive on the world market) abounds (Clarke, Gibson, Haley and Stanford, 2013; Spiro, 2013). Ontario has Canada’s largest manufacturing sector, so the hollowing out of Canadian manufac- turing most severely impacts both youth and adult employment in Ontario.
The second economic change is reflected in Ontario’s post-recession austerity measures. This indicator shows the power a provincial govern- ment can have over market forces. Quebec has faced similar challenges to its manufacturing sector, yet that province has the lowest gap between adult and youth employment rates. Although Quebec has undertaken some policy shifts after the 2008 recession towards austerity, it has not been as severe as cuts implemented in Ontario. Nor did Quebec mimic the decade of ag- gressive service cuts ushered in by the Harris government starting in 1995. In effect, Quebec has implemented policies that led to a shared burden of this past recession. Ontario has chosen to allow the impact of the recession to rest squarely at the feet of Ontario’s youth.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at
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