British Columbia

Youth unemployment highest in 11 years: StatsCan

Young people have been hardest hit by rising unemployment in Canada, statistics released Friday show.
A young woman looks for jobs at an Employment Insurance centre, but openings are few and far between for youth in B.C., Statistics Canada reports. ((Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press))
Young people have been hardest hit by rising unemployment across Canada according to data released Friday by Statistics Canada.

Employment figures for June show a loss of 33,000 jobs among those 15 to 24 years old, rocketing the unemployment rate among young people to 15.9 per cent, the highest it has been in 11 years.

Older workers seem to be offsetting youth job losses: there were 33,000 additional jobs last month for workers aged 55 and older.

In B.C., the overall jobless rate climbed to 8.1 per cent last month — up half a percentage point from May — tying the province with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador for the highest month-to-month increase in the country.

The president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Ken Georgetti, said the situation for youth is just going to get worse.

"There's no jobs for students coming out of school, which is again going to show up coming into the school year — more student debt going on and it just starts to snowball," Georgetti said.

"Part of the problem, though, is that the stimulus package that [federal Finance Minister Jim] Flaherty keeps guarding and holding on to so dearly aren't working." 

More money needs to go into the pockets of the unemployed, and that requires changes to the Employment Insurance system, Georgetti said.

B.C. Economic Development Minister Iain Black offered a more optimistic assessment. While the numbers are disturbing, he said, he's confident the provincial economy should start turning around soon.

"I do believe it's encouraging that in the spring outlook, the Conference Board of Canada along with the [International Monetary Fund] forecast B.C. to record more growth than other jurisdictions — highest rate in Canada. Part of that is without question due to the Olympic Games." 

The 2010 Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., next Feb. 12.


  • Earlier versions of this story indicated incorrectly that 33,000 jobs were lost in B.C. in June among people aged 15 to 24. In fact, the job-loss and unemployment-rate figures among young people referred to all of Canada.
    Jul 13, 2009 2:59 PM PT