Youth Unemployment in Canada: Challenging Conventional Thinking?
In the aftermath of the recent recession, the issue of youth unemployment has rekindled significant unease with different levels of government, communities and the general public. In addition to the most common consequences of unemployment such as financial hardship and emotional distress, jobless youth may experience erosion of individual skills and knowledge. The erosion of skills may likewise be caused by underemployment which does not allow youth to utilize the full range of skills possessed. At the aggregated economic level, such an erosion of skills may disadvantage business in their ability to expand and compete. This paper aims to examine the level of hardship associated with youth unemployment and the presence of youth underemployment in the Canadian economy. The results of the analysis show a number of positive trends: the youth unemployment rate trends downward while expected demographic changes may further ease youth joblessness; youth unemployment is primarily short-lived and often reflects a transitory state between school and the labour market. On the other hand, youth underemployment is significant and manifests through the underutilization of skills and labour. The capacity of the economy to tap into the enlarged pool of better educated youth does not keep pace with the improvements in educational attainment; underutilization of youth skills is common and extensive in specific occupations; and the proportion of youth that are involuntary part-timers is on the rise.
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