Lack of higher paying work forcing older Canadians to take part-time jobs: Report

Teens being displaced driving jobless rate to record levels
||Last Updated: 09/05/2013

The jobless rate among students 15 to 18 years old looking for part-time work has climbed past 20 per cent — the highest on record — as older Canadians are increasingly forced to take on part-time jobs, according to a report from CIBC World Markets.

There has been a 22 per cent drop in employment in the 15 to 18 age group since 2007.

"While Canada's unemployment rate is well off its recession highs, the quality of new jobs has left much to be desired," said Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at CIBC. "Manufacturing has been steadily shrinking its share of the workforce and, of late, governments are also paring back… The lack of higher paying work has forced parents into taking the kind of employment previously reserved for teenage students."

The most significant employers of young Canadians have traditionally been in the retail and food service sectors, he said. However, food counter and kitchen help employment has plunged among those under 19, but soared for other age groups, including “a huge climb” for those 25 and over. It's been much the same for lower level retail sales and cashier positions.

"Young adults, displaced older workers or immigrants whose education and skills are not always fully rewarded in the job market have been pushed into low-wage work during what has been a fairly lacklustre economic recovery," said Shenfeld. "The real story is that the job market has not been strong enough to generate higher quality employment for older workers."

With average weekly wages up by only 1.7 per cent in the last 12 months, there has been no material lift to spending power in Canada, he said. The country needs a better job mix, along with productivity growth in existing jobs, before we'll see a significant increase in wages, which will free up part-time work for students.

"For that, we need faster global growth to propel the export-oriented industries that typically generate higher quality positions," said Shenfeld. "Struggling emerging market countries are part of why that isn't yet happening but we're keeping a closer eye on the U.S. budget debate which, far more than Fed tapering, will set Canada's fate in 2014."

The complete report is available at CIBC.

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