Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

August 05, 2011 09:32 ET

Young Workers Bearing Brunt of Unemployment: CLC President Comments on Job Numbers for July 2011

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 5, 2011) - Young workers continue to bear the brunt of unemployment in Canada and the government has to do something about it, says Ken Georgetti president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"There are far too many young people unemployed or working in part-time or dead end jobs," Georgetti says. "They aspire to good jobs and careers but they end up living in their parents' basements. The federal government is doing nothing for them."

Georgetti was commenting on the release by Statistics Canada of its Labour Force Survey for July 2011. There were 1,351,900 unemployed Canadians in July and the unemployment rate decreased to 7.2%. Among 15 to 24-year-olds, unemployment was much higher, at 14.1%.

"The government has a responsibility to give these young people a chance to work," Georgetti says. "Ottawa prefers to chop public sector jobs and provide tax breaks to corporations in the hope that they will create jobs but they are not doing that. Young workers are the victims of poor public policy."

Georgetti adds that older workers are afraid to leave the workforce because their pensions have been eroded and that means there is less room for young people to enter the workforce. "We need employment policies friendly to younger workers but we also have to protect and improve our pensions so that people feel they can retire in dignity."

Quick Analysis from CLC Senior Economist Sylvain Schetagne

A decreasing unemployment rate is not always a sign of a strong labour market.

The decrease in the unemployment rate from 7.4% to 7.2% observed between June and July 2011 is mainly due to Canadians leaving the labour market, not to their finding jobs.

In July, the number of unemployed Canadians decreased by 35,700 simply because 28,600 people left the labour market at a time when only 7,100 jobs were created. In fact, if those workers had not left the labour market, the unemployment rate would have stayed the same.

Both the employment rate (the proportion of the population that has a job), and the participation rate (the proportion of Canadians active into the labour market), declined last month. This means a smaller proportion of Canadians are working or active in the labour market.

Young workers aged 15-24 continue to have an unemployment rate of twice the level observed for all Canadians. In July, the unemployment rate for young workers was 14.1%. The proportion of young workers working part time also increased significantly last month, from 46.7% to 47.7%. For this age group, 22,200 full-time jobs were eliminated, while 24,600 part-time jobs were created.

Summer students also continue to suffer. Students aged 15 to 24 – and who are going back to school in the fall – experienced an unemployment rate of 17.4% in July. This is 0.5% higher than July of last year, when their unemployment rate was 16.9%.

Finally, it is important to note that a "public sector recession" is underway. In July, 71,600 public sector jobs disappeared. Many of those jobs were lost in education (-30,000), a sector that always experiences a decrease in July due to lay-offs of non-tenured teachers and support staff. Jobs losses were also observed in health and social assistance (-39,400) and in public administration (-11,800).

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca.

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