Fewer young Canadians are working, with teenaged students opting not to take part-time jobs and more Canadians aged 20 to 24 staying in school, Statistics Canada says.

Between 2008 and 2014, the number of teens aged 15 to 19 who were working or looking for work declined by 6.1 percentage points to 46.4 per cent.

Most of the young Canadians in this age group were in school, so most of the decrease is because fewer students were working part-time, according to Statistics Canada researcher André Bernard.

Among Canadians aged 20 to 24, participation in the labour force dropped by 2.2 percentage points to 73.7 per cent.

Most of the decline was because Canadians in this age group decided to remain in school, going on to college or university, Bernard said.

The sharp decline in labour force participation by young people between 2008 and 2014 is typical of recessions and a similar decline was seen after the 1990 to 1992 recession.

Recession's impact

From 1989 to 1997, the youth participation rate in the labour force declined from 71.2 per cent to 61.5 per cent.

That's slightly worse than the overall 64.2 per cent participation rate among Canadians aged 15 to 24 measured in 2014.

But it reflects the impact of recessions on youth employment, with many unable to find even part-time work and deciding as a result to stay in school during periods of high unemployment.

Bernard did not assess the impact of older workers taking part-time jobs because no full-time jobs are available, or of temporary foreign workers filling the service sector.

"When labour market conditions are less favourable, some young people may postpone labour market entry or pursue full-time studies without holding or seeking a job," he said in the study.

Back to school

The number of 20- to 24-year-olds in school rose from 34.2 per cent to 37.6 per cent over the four years. At the same time, eight per cent were neither working nor in school.

Among the teens, school enrolment rose by 2.6 percentage points to 81.5 per cent, while only four per cent were sitting on the couch doing nothing, as critics of the current generation might say.

Among immigrants in the 15 to 24 age group, even fewer were likely to hold a job, while more were in school than Canadian-born young people.

Declines in labour force participation for all young Canadians were larger in the Prairie provinces and British Columbia, and smaller in Quebec.