Youth employment is crucial for reducing income inequalities and encouraging social inclusion, economic growth, and global competitiveness. Finding employment as a young person will help develop key skills and improve long-term career prospects. However, unemployment rates are often higher among young people than the general population.
In this article, we explore the statistics around youth unemployment in Canada. You will find information on how unemployment among Canada’s younger people has changed over the years and how the unemployment rates compare to those of the general population, among other key statistics.
Youth Unemployment Statistics for Canadians
- Canada’s youth unemployment rate was 11.25% in August 2023.
- During the pandemic, the unemployment rate among Canada’s young people reached 20.11%.
- Canada’s youth unemployment rate is twice as high as the country’s overall unemployment rate, which is 5.5%.
- People who are at the core working age (25 to 55 years of age) are more than twice less likely to be unemployed than young people in Canada.
- Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest youth unemployment rate in Canada at 15.8% and Quebec the lowest at 7.1%.
- Nova Scotia has the biggest difference, over 10%, between unemployed young men and women.
Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have the highest rates of unemployed young men at 18.4% and 18.3%.
- Unemployment among young Canadian men is higher than the OECD average (12.6% compared to 10.6%) but is lower among young Canadian women (9.9% compared to 10.2%),
- Japan has the lowest unemployment rates among young men and women within the OECD countries.
- Costa Rica has the highest percentage of unemployed young women (30.3%) and Spain has the highest percentage of unemployed young men (26.6%).
Youth Unemployment in Canada
When we discuss unemployment rates among young people, we refer to the share of 15-24-year-olds in the labour force who are currently not in paid employment but are available for work and actively seeking employment.
Canada’s current youth unemployment rate is 11.25%. It increased by 1.05% compared to July and was 1.75% higher compared to August 2022.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
Changes in Unemployment Rates Among Young People in Canada
The overall unemployment rate for 2022 was 10.0%. While the current unemployment rate is higher than it was in 2022, it is still lower than it was in 2021. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the youth unemployment rate in Canada was 10.99%. It increased by 9.13% in 2020 when COVID-19 restrictions began, reaching 20.11%
This is the highest rate recorded since the 1980s when unemployment among young people in Canada was much higher than today. For example, in 1983, 19.2% of Canada’s young people who were available for work were unemployed.
Following the worst peak in 2020, the employment situation improved among young people in Canada in 2021. However, at 13.53%, it still remained above the pre-pandemic unemployment rate despite a decline of 6.58% and it took until 2022 for the rate to reduce below the pre-pandemic unemployment rate. Unfortunately, the youth unemployment rate in 2023 has once again climbed higher and may remain high as the overall unemployment rate is predicted to rise slightly in 2024.
Young People in Canada Are More Likely to Be Unemployed
Young people in Canada are twice as likely to face unemployment compared to the overall working population in Canada. The overall unemployment rate in Canada was 5.5% in August 2023.
People from the 25 to 54 age group are the least likely to be unemployed at 4.6%. The trend is the same across Canada. For example, in Quebec where only 3.8% of the core working age group is unemployed, 7.1 of young workers are not in employment. The difference between the groups is even more striking in Newfoundland, where 7.8% of the core group are unemployed compared to 15.8% of the province’s young people.
Youth Unemployment Rates Across Provinces
There is a lot of variation in the youth unemployment rates across Canada. While there are no details for youth unemployment rates available for the territories, the lowest rate among provinces is in Quebec where 7.1% of young job seekers were unemployed in August.
The highest rate of youth unemployment is in Newfoundland and Labrador with 15.8%. It is followed by New Brunswick, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island with 14.1%, 13.9%, and 12.7%, respectively.
Gender Differences in Youth Unemployment Rates
Women are more likely to be employed than men among young Canadians. In August 2023, 12.6% of young men available for work were unemployed compared to 9.9% of women.
The highest numbers of unemployed young men were in Newfoundland and Labrador at 18.4% and in New Brunswick at 18.3%. The highest numbers of job-seeking women were found in Newfoundland and Labrador at 13% and in Ontario at 11.9%. The lowest rate of unemployed young men was in Ontario at 8.4% while the lowest rate of unemployed women, 5.7%, was found in both Quebec and Nova Scotia.
In the majority of provinces, young men are more likely to be unemployed than young women. The only exceptions in August 2023 were British Columbia with 8.4% men compared to 10.5% of women and Manitoba with 9.2% of men compared to 9.6% of women.
In some provinces, there were large differences between the unemployment rates for young men and women. In Newfoundland and Labrador, 18.4% of men were looking for work compared to 13% of women. New Brunswick had 18.3% of men and 9.8% of women out of work with an 8.2% difference between the genders.
The biggest difference, of 10.4% was in Nova Scotia where 16.1% of young men were unemployed compared to just 5.7% of women. The most even rates are in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Youth Unemployment Rates in Canada Compared to Other Countries
Comparing the youth unemployment rate in Canada to other countries can be useful in assessing how well Canada is doing with employing its younger workers.
Unemployment Among Young Men in the OECD Countries
According to the OECD, the latest male youth unemployment rate across the OECD countries is 10.6% compared to 12.6% in Canada. This percentage puts Canada’s youth unemployment rate 2% higher than the OECD average.
Canada’s unemployment rate among young men is also higher than the average for the G7 countries which is 9.5%. However, it is better than the EU average, which is 14.2%.
Youth unemployment among young men in the OECD countries is worst in Spain (26.6%), Costa Rica (24.2%), Slovak Republic (21.3%), Greece (21.2%), and Italy (20.9%). Japan has the lowest unemployment rate among young men at 3.5%. It is followed by South Korea at 6.15%, Germany at 6.2%, Mexico at 6.25%, and Israel at 6.8%.
Unemployment Among Young Women in the OECD Countries
Unlike the unemployment rate for you men, Canada has a lower unemployment rate among young women than the OECD average at 9.9% compared to 10.2%. It is also lower than the EU average, which is 13.5% but it is higher than the average for the G7 countries, which is 8.1%.
Costa Rica has the highest unemployment rate among young women in the OECD countries at 30.3%. Spain is second highest with 27.4%. It is followed by Greece with 25.5%, Italy with 24.8%, and Turkey with 23.1%.
Japan tops the table for the lowest unemployment for women, too. Its latest unemployment rate for young women is 3.8%. South Korea is second with 4.3%, followed by Germany with 5%, Mexico with 5.8%, and Iceland with 6.1%.
Youth Unemployment Rates Across the World
We can also compare Canada’s youth unemployment rate to the rest of the world. The lowest youth unemployment rate is in Qatar at 0.3%. It is followed by Japan, Germany, Israel, and Singapore. Youth unemployment is the worst in New Caledonia at 38%. Other countries with very high youth unemployment rates include French Polynesia, Greece, Spain, and Uruguay.
Why is Youth Employment Important?
Preventing high unemployment rates among young people is important both for the young individuals themselves as well as for the country and its economy. High employment among young people supports Canada’s economic growth and productivity and their tax revenue contributions support government budgets.
Youth employment is crucial in reducing income inequality between age groups. High rates of unemployment among young people mean the income gap between them and older age groups is growing. It will also make it more challenging for young people to gain financial independence and support themselves. Higher youth unemployment rates have also been linked to higher crime rates.
Gaining employment at a young age can support the individual’s skills development and long-term career prospects. It allows young people to build professional networks and gain the experience required for career progression. Employment promotes social inclusion and can boost self-esteem and a sense of purpose.
A high rate of youth employment will also support Canada’s global competitiveness. Investing in young people will ensure that Canada has a future workforce that is skilled and experienced with innovative ideas.
Canada’s young people were highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with unemployment among them rocketing to over 20% in 2020. By 2022, the rate had fallen significantly and was for a while lower than before the pandemic. However, challenges in the economy have increased the youth unemployment rate again and it is now over 11%.
Compared to other countries, Canada has a higher youth unemployment rate than for example Germany or the United States, but lower than others including the United Kingdom. It has a higher rate than the average for G7 countries, but not as high as the average for EU countries.
It is crucial that Canada tackles the rising rate of youth unemployment as high rates of unemployment can lead to widening income gap between age groups and higher crime rates and can affect the young individuals’ long-term career prospects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Canada has a relatively high youth employment rate at 11.25%. It is higher than the OECD or G7 averages. However, it is not as high as the EU average. It is also significantly lower than in countries such as Spain or Costa Rica where over a quarter of young people are unemployed.
There is an 8.7% difference between the provinces with the lowest and highest unemployment ratings among young people in Canada. Quebec has the lowest rating at 7.1% and Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest at 15.8%. Other provinces with low youth unemployment are Manitoba at 9.4% and British Columbia at 9.5%, while other provinces with high youth unemployment are New Brunswick at 14.1% and Ontario at 13.9%.
Young men are more likely to be unemployed than young women in Canada at 12.6% compared to 9.9%. However, there are differences among the Canadian provinces. For example, in Nova Scotia, only 5.7%