Aboriginal employment gap widens during recession: StatsCan

2009 unemployment rate for Aboriginals jumped to 13.9 per cent, compared to just 8.1 per cent for non-Aboriginals

Aboriginal people living off reserves were hit harder by the recent economic downturn than non-Aboriginal people, according to Statistics Canada.

As a result, the gap in employment rates between the two groups widened from 3.5 percentage points in 2008 to 4.8 percentage points in 2009, found Aboriginal People Living Off-reserve and the Labour Market: Estimates from the Labour Force Survey, 2008-2009.

The average employment rate for Aboriginal people in 2009 was 57 per cent, compared with 61.8 per cent for non-Aboriginal people.

At the same time, the unemployment rate rose more sharply for Aboriginal people aged 15 and over. Their rate increased from 10.4 per cent in 2008 to 13.9 per cent in 2009, while the rate for non-Aboriginal people rose from 6.0 per cent to 8.1 per cent.

The labour market downturn had a particularly harsh impact on young people aged 15 to 24. From 2008 to 2009, the employment rate for off-reserve Aboriginal youth fell by 6.8 percentage points, compared with a decline of 4.2 percentage points among non-Aboriginal youth. Both decreases were much larger than those experienced by workers in the core-age group (ages 25 to 54) over this period.

In 2009, the employment rate was 45.1 per cent for Aboriginal youth, while it was 55.6 per cent for their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

The biggest employer of core-age Aboriginal people in 2009 was the health-care and social assistance field, followed by trade, construction and manufacturing. For core-age non-Aboriginal people, trade was the top employer, followed by manufacturing, health care and social assistance and professional, scientific and technical services.

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