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Young job seekers struggling with Toronto’s youth unemployment rate at 16.8% | CBC News

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With Canada’s youth unemployment rate hitting its highest level since 2016 this spring and Toronto’s number coming in above that national average, some young people say they’re having a hard time finding work.

Christine Erhirhie, a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Mississauga, told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning Tuesday that she’s been trying to find a summer job since February, but to no avail.

“It’s definitely been difficult. I’ve been searching for months,” she said. “I still haven’t landed a job yet, but not to worry, I’m going to still keep pushing.”

The latest available Statistics Canada data for April of 2024 shows Canada’s youth unemployment rate was 12.8 per cent, which marks the highest number for that category since July of 2016 — excluding 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year over year, the national unemployment rate was up 3.5 per cent for young women, and 2.3 per cent for young men, according to seasonally adjusted data.

Statistics Canada notes data for Toronto youth is not seasonally adjusted so there is some nuance needed when making time-series comparisons, but the youth unemployment rate for the city came in even higher in April, at 16.8 per cent. 

Younger demographics overtaking boomers

That number is the highest figure seen in April since 2014, when the unemployment rate for youth was 16.3 per cent — again, excluding two pandemic years.

“In general, the youth labour market in Toronto has followed the same trend as the national average,” Statistics Canada spokesperson Koraly Pepin said in an email to CBC News.

LISTEN: Youth looking for work:

Metro Morning9:52With youth unemployment sitting at an all time high, why young people are struggling to find a job

Christine Erhirhie is a first-year student at the University of Toronto Mississauga who has been searching for a job for weeks. 

Timothy Lang, president and chief executive officer of Toronto employment agency Youth Employment Services, told Metro Morning Tuesday that the city’s large population is one of the reasons it has a higher youth unemployment rate than the national average.

“A lot of people come here from all over the country to look for work, to live here — so it’s historically been five or six percentage points above the national unemployment rate for youth,” Lang said.

He also said there are a few reasons the unemployment rate is ticking upward. One is that younger populations are outnumbering older cohorts for the first time, which is creating more competition for jobs.

Job competition a factor

Statistics Canada says the share of millennials and generation Z in the country’s population is increasing, while the reverse is true for baby boomers and generation X.

“There are more young people looking for work — not only because of the population increase … but there’s more of a need as well,” Lang said.

Erhirhie’s story isn’t an uncommon one for youth in Toronto right now, he said.

Christine Erhirhie is a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She says she has been looking for a job for months, but with no luck. (CBC)

She said she hasn’t been passive about her search, either. On top of the usual online searches, Erhirhie told CBC News she has looked around on campus, searched in local malls and stores for retail jobs, done workshops to update her resume and LinkedIn profile, and gone in person to hand in resumes, as well as following up with hiring managers.

She said having a job is important to her as she genuinely wants to contribute to the workforce, but also because she’s about to have four months off through the summer and doesn’t want to sit idle.

“The majority of that time should be spent working, so it’s important that I have a job, that way I’m able to afford my tuition in the upcoming months,” she said.

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