Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

August 12, 2005 07:00 ET

Young Workers Paid 25% Less Than 30 Years Ago

Canadian Labour Congress study documents current job market conditions for youth – situation worse for young workers of colour Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Education Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA --(CCNMatthews - Aug. 12, 2005) - "You're a young Canadian with your whole future in front of you..." meant a lot more a generation ago than it does today. Today, being a Canadian under 25 means you're better educated, paid less and less likely to find a job you can count on compared to your parents' generation back in the 1970s and 80s.

According to a new report from the Canadian Labour Congress, young working men, aged 15 to 24, earn 25% less than the young men of the same age group did a generation ago (in real terms, adjusted for inflation). Young women seem to do a bit better, earning 20% below what was paid to young women in the workforce thirty years ago.

This dramatic decline in wages is just one of the shockers revealed in a new statistical analysis of the job market for young workers in Canada, released today by the Canadian Labour Congress to mark International Youth Day. "Better Educated, Badly Paid and Underemployed: A Statistical Picture of Young Workers in Canada" is available online at

"It's harder than it used to be for young Canadians to get started in life. We've seen the signs for years, and now we've got the numbers to prove it," says Barbara Byers, Executive Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"This study makes it urgent for everyone in a decision-making capacity, including those of us in the labour movement, to deal with the issues that stand in the way of rapid improvements in the standard of living of those who happen to be less than 25 years old today. Issues like job creation, minimum wage, student debt, child care, training, pay equity and an effective anti-racism strategy," she says.

The study also highlights how, compared to all other workers of the same age group, young workers of colour experience higher unemployment, longer unemployment, lower salaries, fewer promotions - even when they are Canadian born (and not held back by issues of language or of recognition of international training credentials or work experience).

This short yet comprehensive study covers issues of unemployment, poverty, education and training, job quality, hours of work, job security and unionization.

"What kind of society are we building, what kind of future are we ensuring by crushing the next generation of Canadians with student debts while denying them the jobs and the wages they need?" asks Byers.

"We really are putting the future on hold by denying opportunity to today's young workers and students. The numbers show that people are staying longer with their parents, don't have much money, aren't getting married or starting families because they cannot experience - at work nor at home - any of the social and economic independence their parents wished for them. If we truly want a better future for the next generation, something's got to change and change fast." she says.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 137 district labour councils.

Contact Information

  • Jeff Atkinson, Communications Department, Canadian Labour Congress
    Primary Phone: 613-526-7425
    Secondary Phone: 613-863-1413