Monday, July 19, 2010

Youth Unemployment in Alberta

By Todd Hirsch
Senior Economist, ATB Financial
July 19, 2010

Being young may have a few advantages, but the ability to find work in Alberta is not one of them. In June, the unemployment rate for Alberta workers aged 15 to 24 was 11.7%. That is nearly double the average rate for workers aged 25 to 54, where only 6.1% of the workforce is out of a job. (The figure is adjusted for seasonality, so the student summer job crunch is accounted for).
Youth unemployment rates are traditionally higher than they are for more mature workers. The problem, as any frustrated youth job seeker will tell you, is the lack of experience they face. It’s the classic Catch-22 scenario: you can’t land a job because you don’t have enough experience, but to get experience you need to land a job. More mature workers tend to have more of the necessary work experience and can therefore find work more easily.

Unemployed youth, though, do tend to have more possible options to explore. Returning to school for more training or traveling abroad are popular routes for young adults who lack steady work. But these options become less practical for older adults who have more financial obligations such as mortgage payments or raising a family.
As always when looking at labour force statistics, some perspective is necessary. While an 11.7% youth unemployment rate is tough, it’s still a far cry from the 17% rate Alberta young people faced in May, 1983 (when ATB Financial’s future Senior Economist was 16 years old!)

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