Only 50% of Canadians Have Jobs, The Unemployment Pandemic

The Unemployment Pandemic, Only 50% of Canadians Have Jobs

Last week the Canadian government released a new round of employment numbers. They weren’t stellar, but they weren’t bad – 7% unemployment. Now that’s almost twice as high as China, and a couple of points above the US, but once again not terrible. Although, a closer inspection revealed that only half of people in Canada have a source of income.

If that weren’t bad enough, that number is rapidly rising. Unemployment stats fail to reflect a significant number of people that just don’t work. Unfortunately, this will change the future of our economy, and Canada in general – and not in a good way.

Cooking The Employment Books

You’ve heard the term unemployment, but you likely don’t know how we get that number. If you do, great! If not, basically the government determines who’s working by conducting a casual census-like survey. 50,000 households get contacted, and they ask them about their employment. You can probably see how this is imperfect.

If your husband/wife/partner has been looking for a job for a while, you have two answers. You can tell a stranger about their struggle to find work, or you can just say they aren’t looking. If you say they aren’t looking, they’re deemed a non-participant of the labour market.

Now the problem is, the number of participants of the labour market is dropping fast. The latest report cited that this is the lowest number in the 15 years of data that StatsCan provides – only 65.5%. That’s only 19.4 million “participants”, out of 29.3 million eligible Canadians. The 7% unemployment is removed from that number, leaving us with 18.063 million employed Canadians. That’s 50.3% of the population in case you’re curious.

Canada’s Labour Force Participation

Labour force participation in Canada
Labour force participation in Canada

Canadians Are “Opting Out” of Work

More and more Canadians are becoming non-participants, and “opting out” of working. Although, this may not be as voluntary as the government would like you to believe. After you remove seniors and children, there’s 24.3 million Canadians that could be working. Sure, there’s stay at home parents, and people taking sabbaticals to recharge. Although, 25.6% is a little high considering we don’t have many stay at home parents with 2 kids and one income these days. And let’s be honest, 6.2 million lottery winners and independently wealthy individuals seems like a stretch too.

Millennials Get Shafted…Again

One significant demographic that should be watched closely here is Millennials. No, not because they aren’t being paid enough to live in the two major cities with job growth in Canada. Unemployment for people under the age of 24 looking for jobs is a whopping 13.2%, almost twice the national average. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell how they do after they hit 25 – we just bulk them in with everyone else up to 65 years of age.

The good news is, that demographic only has a 6% unemployment rate. The bad news is, someone doesn’t hand you a job as soon as you hit 25. This means the rate is most likely skewed to be employed if you’re a Boomer, and less so if you’re a Millennial.

How Does This Impact Real Estate

This crunch on youth will impact homebuyers in a way most people haven’t thought about. Currently in a city like Toronto, the average homebuyer is 36 years of age. This means they likely entered the workforce around the year 2000, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Way back in 2000, there were 1.305 million people under the age of 25 working full-time. This kept university debt low, and allowed almost 16 years of savings for a down payment on a home.

Fast forward 16 years, that same demographic has 2.1% less jobs, but is 7% larger. Bottom line, there are 326k more people that will need to delay their financial goals by at least 5 years. This would make that 36 year old Toronto buyer at least 41 when they can afford to purchase a home, likely causing a gap of first time buyers. You know, unless we import them – but that would never happen, right?

An increasing number of people “opting out” isn’t just a hit to their bank accounts, it’s a hit to Canada. It decreases the number of people generating maximum economic output, prevents cash flowing through the economy, and doesn’t generate tax revenue for the country. More important, if youth are suppose to be the future, we’re not setting them up to have a very good one.

For the most part, Millennials want to work, but Canada isn’t fostering innovation or industry which creates meaningful employment. Millennials just want the same thing Boomers had when they were younger, full-time, secure employment, with decent benefits, and a high enough pay cheque that they can start a family, buy a home, and save for retirement. Seems like a pretty fair thing to expect.



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  • Screwed Millennial 8 years ago

    Always figured it was a crock. We’re somehow always suspiciously between 6-8%…it’s not like we’re building whole cities to keep numbers up like in China.

  • Mia 8 years ago

    Here because of Reddit. I like that people there are comparing it to the 50s…when women and colored people couldn’t find work. You know, the “good ole days”, FML.

    • Better Dwelling 8 years ago

      Redditors are a primary demographic of 40-50 year old males. Not exactly our audience, since we feel they’re a pretty well represented segment in Canada.

      • KRS 8 years ago

        Cmon man, I like your site but it’s editorializing stupid statements like this more and more. Don’t be another zero hedge. Back up your numbers with more historical conext rather than just going straight for the click bait and panic button. Even the reddit comment is weak. Raise the discourse guys.

        • Alice 8 years ago

          Your takeaway and my take away are very different. I got that unemployment numbers are a bad way of indicating the health of the economy.

          I wish they talked about wage growth (or lack thereof) though. It really would’ve driven the point home since more and more of those “employed people” are actually part time.

        • Dave 8 years ago

          It’s only editorialized if you don’t think having a country half filled with people incapable of working is a problem. It’s definitely a crisis if only half of Canadians aren’t working in my opinion.

          1/4 of Canadians are retired? That’s not a problem by itself. It’s a problem that should lead to a spike of youth employment, which it isn’t. Japan is the oldest country by population, and youth unemployment is only around 6%.

  • Emma 8 years ago

    As an American reading about your economy, I’m waiting for your fucktards to come out of the woodworks and claim 25% of Canadians are incapable of working. We have 100 million Americans not working, and SJWs always say “they can’t work because they’re incapable”.

    Sure, a small percentage can’t work, or are stay at home moms. But 1/4 of the country? Get real.

    • John 8 years ago

      I believe we consider people that are retired and make more than $4000 a year through benefits and investments are considered employed in Canada too. This would make that number a little low, correct me if I’m wrong.

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