Canada’s youth unemployment isn’t so bad

In Spain, youth unemployment is 44 per cent

Photo courtesy of joshuahoffmanphoto on Flickr

Statistics Canada tracks unemployment among university and college-aged students who wrap-up school in April and who plan to work during the summer before returning to school in the fall. Their first figures for this summer show that the unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-old students has fallen from 16.5 per cent in May 2010 to 15.0 per cent last month.

Students might see a drop like that as good news, but that’s not what The Globe and Mail or the National Post saw when they wrote about it this weekend. They called the situation “bleak” and “woeful,” because of the fact that students have double the unemployment rate of Canadians overall.

But students in Canada have a much better chance of landing a job this summer than students who live elsewhere in the western world. The New Zealand Herald reports that youth unemployment is 29 per cent among those aged 18 to 24. The Telegraph reports that youth unemployment is 36 per cent in Greece, 29 per cent in Italy, 32 per cent in Ireland, 24 per cent in Sweden and 20 per cent in the United Kingdom and — get this — 44 per cent in Spain.

The only big European countries with lower youth unemployment are Switzerland, Austria and Germany. However, in Germany, where it’s 8.1 per cent, students attend school year-round and don’t pay tuition, meaning far fewer of them look for summer work. In the United States, youth unemployment hit a record high of 19.1 per cent last summer.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.