Nearly 1 million young Canadians aren’t working or in school

But we’re doing better than Europe, U.S.

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Photo by david_shankbone on Flickr

Photo by david_shankbone on Flickr

It’s a big number: 904,000 Canadians aged 15 to 29 were either unemployed or had opted out of the labour force in 2009, representing 13.3 per cent of people that age. The rest were split between school (44 per cent) and work (43 per cent), according to a Statistics Canada report.

Why care that so many young people weren’t working or in school? Well, Youth Not in Employment, Education or Training—NEETs for short—may become “discouraged, disengaged and socially excluded,” says StatsCan. Translation: they’re more likely up to no good.

One reason for all the NEETs is that young people have more trouble finding jobs, especially in certain regions. The unemployment rate for 15-to-24-year-olds in April ranged from 8.8 per cent in Alberta to 20.2 per cent in Newfoundland and was 16.4 per cent in Ontario. By contrast, the unemployment rate for all Canadians was 7.3 per cent.

That said, the study’s authors point out that among 15-to-29-year-olds looking for work in 2011 only 55,000—a mere one per cent of the total—had been unemployed for more than six months. That suggests that young people who are willing to work may not be unemployed particularly long.

And while 904,000 NEETs is worrisome, Canada has fewer per capita than other G7 countries including France and the United Kingdom (15.6 per cent), the United States (16.9 per cent) and Italy (21.2 per cent). Germany is the exception: just 11.6 per cent of 15 to 29 years are NEETs.