By the Numbers: Employment of young workers in Canada

Employment of young workers in CanadaToronto – January 11, 2017 – Young workers, aged 15-29, are facing many challenges on the hiring front, as the percentage of employed youth in Canada has not yet returned to pre-recession levels.

Young workers are more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the general population. Between 1990 and 2015, the average rate of unemployment for youth (15–29) in Canada was 11.8%, compared to 8.1% for the general population. In addition, a recent report from Statistics Canada found that full-time employment among young workers (excluding full-time students) has declined significantly since the late 1970s.

Generally, young worker provincial unemployment rates tend to reflect the conditions of those local labour markets:




Prince Edward Island



Nova Scotia



New Brunswick


















British Columbia



Nunavut (2011)



Northwest Territories (2011)



Yukon (2011)



Where are youth working?

Non-student and student youth employment rates by age group, 2008 and 2015

33.7% of young workers were employed in the Retail, Hospitality, and Foodservice sectors, compared to 13.4% of workers aged 30 and over (in 2015).

55.2% of young workers employed in the Retail, Hospitality, and Foodservice sectors were students, and 62.4% working in these sectors, were youth aged 15 to 19.

10.5% of young workers were employed in Health Care and Social Assistance sectors (in 2015).

7.9% of young workers were employed in construction (construction work is far more common for 15–19 year old non-students).

15% of young workers were employed in a unionized workplace.

Employment rates for young people in Canada (15–29 years)

860,000, or 12.6% of all youth in Canada were jobless, not in school or in training, and were either looking for work or had left the labour force entirely in 2015.

Of the approximately 665,000 youth working part-time in 2015, almost half would have preferred to have a full-time job.

Youth with less education are particularly more vulnerable in finding stable employment.

53.9% was the employment rate for youth without a high school diploma, in 2015.

86.2% was the employment rate for youth with a post-secondary diploma.

Other youth groups — including, but not limited to Indigenous youth, recent immigrant youth, and youth with disabilities – tend to struggle more to find work. These groups in particular may face hiring discrimination in the job seeking market.

Source: "Youth Employment in Canada" - 2016 Government of Canada report