Canada’s Youth Unemployment Reality

Much has been written about the reality of youth unemployment rates in Canada today, but most of it is the sort of vague and generalized crap that could be summed up in a tweet and doesn’t really give much background to the challenges facing Canada’s young people.

The truth is that looking at Canada’s youth labour market is a perfect scenario to spin the numbers whichever way you have an interest in spinning them.  It really is a class half-full that is being described as either completely empty or “surely as full as it was back in my day”.  Take these generational arguments and their older generational rebuttals for example:

1) After repeatedly predicting that the youth unemployment rate would improve since the Great Recession of 2009, the powers that be have been proven mostly wrong as youth unemployment in Canada is currently at 14.5% (a very modest improvement over the 15.2% 2009 rate).

But… You young bloods think you got it bad?  In 1983 youth unemployment hit 19.2% and even as recently as 1992 it was 17.2%.  So trust me son, I’ve seen worse.

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2) Not only are the unemployment numbers for us bad, there are now many fewer youths even looking for working now than there was a year ago.

But… Quit feeling sorry for yourselves?  Young Canadians should go ahead and talk to their generational peers over in Spain, Greece, Portugal, and much of the rest of the rest OECD if they want to know what real hopelessness feels like.  Going out for a date in your early twenties requires months of saving and coupon clipping over there.

3) Man student loans suck when you can’t find work…

But… Ok, well you kind of have a point there, but those student loans might be the only reason you have a job in the first place.  According to a 2012 study by Canada’s CGA, in 2009, the unemployment rate of youth who attended or completed high school was 19.2% whereas youth having a university degree enjoyed a much lower rate of 8.9%.

Also, it’s not our fault you guys buried your head in the perfectly raked sand at your local big money U.  It’s your responsibility to get out there and figure out what the market really demands – not ours.

4) A recent Stats Canada report stated that, “The youth unemployment rate in 2012 was 2.4 times that of adults — marking the biggest gap since 1977.”

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But… Well ya, we had better make more money since we have to support all of our kids that don’t leave the house until they’re 30 years old!  Don’t drag us down, lobby to simply make more money yourselves instead.  Use those bootstraps we heard our parents talk about and thought we might one day get around to using.

But… We paid into that government our whole lives and now we have a right to do demand whatever we want because of it.  What would you youngins know about government anyway, last time we checked none of you even vote!  Besides, one day you’ll be us!5) As more and more money gets spent on health care and entitlement programs aimed solely at pandering to the baby boomers, less and less government funding is available for subsidizing post-secondary schooling, and R & D in general (not to mention infrastructure).

6) Well, at least we have internet and smartphones – so I guess we still win kind of.

But… Back in our day all we needed was a stick and an empty can to have fun.  You young whippersnappers these days are slaves to machines.  Also, we still run the world, and will for a while because of that whole “bulge in the demographic snake” thing – so HAHA!

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