Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Youth Unemployment Statistics

The CBC asks the question: "Why are so many of Canada's young people out of work?" The article gravitates between the stupid premise that today's young people have a greater sense of entitlement than previous generations ...
As a recent cover of Time magazine suggests, this has been interpreted by some as entitlement and laziness on the part of millennials who feel like they should be handed more than they’ve worked for.
Likewise, a request for personal anecdotes for this story was met with comments claiming, “the majority of [millennials] have their faces buried in their cellphones instead of doing their job” and that they are “useless mouth pieces whining about ‘poor me.’”
... and the more reality based notion that there are fewer and fewer positions that pay enough to cover the cost of living AND the student loan debts that are incurred to get a university education which is increasingly being seen as obligatory by most employers ...
Part of the problem is sheer competition for skilled jobs.
In 1990, little more than half of the Canadian under-30 population had completed some form of post-secondary education. By 2011, that number had ballooned to 75.5 per cent.


Another effect of the increase in the number of people with degrees is the watering down of an education’s value.
According to a survey by Career Builder North America, 36 per cent of employers are now hiring college and university graduates for jobs that used to require only a high school diploma. And 45 per cent of the employers who raised their hiring standards said they are looking for candidates with at least a four-year degree.
Nearly half of young people in Canada are now employed in retail, food service or clerical work, which doesn’t offer a lot of opportunity to save for retirement or put a down payment on a home after student loans.
Hasn't it always been this way though? Aren't young people traditionally less employed because that's the story for the beginning of one's labour history? The Financial Post says that the gap between youth and adult unemployment is the highest it's been in over 35 years. The article includes the interesting fact that post-secondary education is not only a good way to train for a decent job, it's also a good way to suppress youth unemployment. As more young people go to college or university, those who opt out and seek to go straight into the labour market after high school suffer for it in terms of higher unemployment:

Here's what the official numbers from StatsCan look like:
The line is going up but it doesn't appear to be rocketing skyward. But let's put that into some context: More young Canadians are in post-secondary education than ever before, lowering the actual size of the labour market. If they were out of school and looking for work, what would that line look like? Also, we hear about these young people refusing to leave the nest or returning to the nest, or some such other expression ["boomerang generation"] to mean that young people are either not leaving the parents' home or are returning to it in their early-thirties. Again, armchair sociologists/psychologists attribute this to some aberration of a particular generation; these are just spoiled kids who refuse to work. Why it isn't interpreted (with an equal amount of worthlessness) as the increased love of this generation for their parents, is an interesting question. The hard, cold facts are that the jobs aren't there or they're very precarious and few and far between. Plus, the cost of living has risen every year for decades now while wages are, for those who have them, fairly stable.

How many of those youngsters living at home, playing video games and smoking weed, have (wisely) left the labour force (because the jobs often aren't there) and do not therefore appear in the statistics? (Please understand, I'm not saying that living-off one's parents and living a life of empty idleness is admirable. But sometimes it can be seen as semi-rational. If people without college or university who ARE looking for work have 14% unemployment rates, and young people with diplomas or degrees have double the national unemployment rate, what would that rate look like if all the slackers were kicked-out of their parents' houses and forced to look for work.

The fact that these slackers are a large enough demographic to even be mentioned in these articles is a sign that the economy is failing young people. And it fails because manufacturing jobs are being automated or shipped overseas. It fails because the white collar field has been shedding workers by the tens of thousands, year after year, for decades. And it fails because the public sector is seen (by the witless) as an absolute drain on the economy rather than as a provider of necessary public services or as the employer of last resort.

There has been a war on the worker. This much is obvious behind all the yammering about "competitiveness" by economic hacks. The true costs of this war continue to be masked by misleading statistics.





Owen Gray said...

There has been a war on workers, thwap. Rather than encouraging employment, the present government has done everything it can to lower wages.

thwap said...


And then they wonder why we don't spend as much.