CANSIM Insights: "Youth employment – from full time to part time work"
Afrasiab Mirza, Department of Economics at Queen's University
February 27, 2012
In todays poor labour market and with a generation of older workers that is finding it increasingly difficult to retire, what do we know about Canadian youth employment? Specifically,
How has youth employment changed in the last 30 years?
- Are there significant differences between men and women employment levels and trends?
- How has the recent recession altered the employment picture for youth?
2 Main Statistical Findings
- In 2011, 2.47 million young Canadians aged 15-24 were employed for at least one
hour per week (14% of all employees).
- The latest labour market statistics show a cycle of decline and recovery in youth
employment and total hours of work. There was a steady and large fall in both the
numbers employed and working hours from 1978-1997, and a subsequent marked
rise until the last recession with the hours recovering to almost 80 per cent of the peak
observed in the late 1970s. In contrast, the average number of hours that youth are
employed per week has been declining in general. These trends are illustrated in
- What has happened over this period is a huge decline in full time employment. There
are 567,400 fewer young people in full time employment in 2011 than in 1976. This
fall is not entirely offset by an increase of 507,400 young people in part-time work.
There has been a net loss of over 160,000 employee jobs over the period. These
trends are illustrated in Figure 2.
2.1 Differences between male and female youth
- Statistics also show that in the past 30 years the gender gap in youth employment
has disappeared. In 2011, of the 2.47 million young Canadians employed roughly
1half were men and half were women while in 1978, 208,000 more young men than
young women were employed.
- Between 1978 and 2011, the significant increase in part-time employment was due
primarily to increased employment among young women. For example, for youth
employed 14 hours or less, the total hours of employment for young women nearly
doubled between 1978 to 2001 (from 152,700 to 282,400) whereas total hours increased by only 50% for young men over the same period (from 130,200 to 192,200).
By contrast, the huge fall in full-time employment was due to a huge fall in the fulltime employment of young men. For instance, for youth employed betwen 41-49
hours, the total hours for young men fell by over 40% between 1978 to 2011 (from
715,800 to 406,700) while the total hours for young women fell by only 5% (from
39,300 to 36,800). These trends are shown in Figure 3.
2.2 Impact of the 2007-2009 recession
- The most recent statistics show that the 2007-2009 recession was marked by a significant decline in youth employment, with nearly 2 million fewer youth being employed today than in late 2007. This decline has been more pronounced for young
men, particulary those employed full-time. In fact, a million fewer young men were
employed as a result of the recession in contrast to 600,000 fewer young women.
In addition, for youth employed full-time, total hours for young men fell by 10-20%,
versus a fall of only 5-10% for young women. These trends are shown in Figure 4.
3 Further Considerations
Youth employment patterns are tightly linked to education. CANSIM data may be able
address the following questions:
- What proportion of young people are exclusively in education, studying and working
at the same time, exclusively in employment, or neither studying nor working?
- How does the present situation compare with other similar years in the business
4 Data Sources
The article is based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) data for Canada. The LFS is a large
sample survey of pproximately 54,000 Canadian households, resulting in the collection of
labour market information for approximately 100,000 individuals. CANSIM Table 282-0016
2was used to generate the data for this article. It contains data on employment than can be
broken down in many dimensions including age, sex, hours employed, and province.
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