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Is Youth Unemployment Increasing While Retirees Are Returning to Work?

The results of Statistics Canada’s monthly labour force survey for June 2009 were released today, and they contain some interesting findings.

The picture they paint is largely the product of the recent hiring demand trends reported by Vicinity Jobs in the first half of this year: Full-time jobs in Ontario declined in June but the decline was offset by part-time gains (+57,000), leaving total employment unchanged. The unemployment rate was at 9.6%, the highest rate in 15 years. Since last October, employment in the province has fallen by 3.5% (232,000 jobs lost). 126,000 of the jobs lost – more than 50% — were in the manufacturing industry.

The report contains one very interesting finding: Canada-wide employment for youths aged 15 to 24 fell by 33,000 jobs in June, pushing their unemployment rate up a full percentage point to 15.9%.   However, employment losses in June for youths were offset by gains among workers aged 55 and over, whose employment increased 33,000. Since last October, employment growth has increased steadily for older workers – particularly among women – with 78,000 new jobs added, or a 2.9% increase. In fact, older workers are the only age group that have added to their numbers since the start of the economic downturn.

Could this be an indication that people in retirement age are returning to work? It might, given that many retirees have seen their retirement savings dwindle during the financial markets meltdown in the second half of last year. So we may be seeing a new problem: With the economy not creating new jobs yet, jobs that would have gone to inexperienced workers may now be going to those with more experience. And with more experienced people aged 55+ willing to work, it may be getting even harder for youth with little or no experience to land their first job.

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