Summer employment for Canadian students stayed above pre-pandemic levels in June and employment for all youth was near a three-year high as employers struggled to find workers and wages surged higher.

Overall, the job market shed 43,000 positions, Statistics Canada said Friday, the first drop not related to COVID-19 public health restrictions since late 2019.

Those restrictions, which came in waves over the last two years, have had a disproportionate impact on younger workers, who make up a larger portion of the workforce in retail, hospitality and other public-facing jobs as businesses were shuttered or on restricted operations for months at a time earlier in the pandemic.

The dip was likely due to employers being unable to find workers to hire rather than intentionally slowing their hiring, RBC’s assistant chief economist said, noting job openings are running at almost 70 per cent above pre-COVID levels and the average number of hours worked rose in June.

“Virtually all industries are struggling with labour shortages,” Nathan Janzen wrote in a note, with demand for travel and hospitality returning “as the economic impact of the pandemic eases but where staffing levels are still far short of pre-pandemic levels.”

The central bank could hike interest rates sharply next week in its ongoing effort to cool inflation, Janzen said, which would also likely put a drag on economic growth and soften the job market through the rest of the year.

Akosua Alagaratnam, the executive director of youth employment network First Work, said the job market currently provides an opportunity to help “those folks who may need a bit of support to get them to the right job, with the right employer” and that an impending recession should not leave the currently unemployed “further behind in labour market uncertainty.”

Wages were up, on average, more than $1.50 an hour at $31.24, a 5.2 per cent increase from a year earlier, the federal statistics agency said. They gained 3.9 per cent in May, while inflation that month was running at 7.7 per cent.

More than three-quarters of female students aged 20 to 24 were employed last month, the highest rate recorded for this group since comparable records were first kept in 1977. Their numbers in the workforce helped keep the overall employment rate among returning students aged 15 to 24 higher than three years prior, in line with the boost first recorded in May.

Summer employment for Canadian students stayed above pre-pandemic levels in June and employment for all youth was near a three-year high as employers struggled to find workers and wages surged higher.

In the three years since June 2019, an extra 14,000 female students aged 20 to 24 became education workers (an increase of more than 70 per cent), and a similar number (but only a 33 per cent rise) became health-care and social assistance workers, StatCan said.

The overall unemployment rate for all youth aged 15 to 24 fell 0.6 percentage points to 9.2 per cent. It was down a full percentage point for female youth at 7.1 per cent and little changed for their male counterparts at 11.1 per cent.

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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The energy and talent of our young people can be mobilized quickly not by abandoning their future to the vagaries of the market but by direct job creation that also benefits local communities.

Lower levels of government, non-profits, and social enterprise groups could administer jobs such as assistance to health care providers and seniors, educational and recreational activities for youth, public arts and culture, and environmental remediation and conservation.

These federally-funded programs can be up and running within months, useful tasks can be performed by citizens at every skill level, and the additional wage base of more working people would help underpin a private sector recovery, spreading benefits to all.


Some lessons from history for the design of a coronavirus fiscal intervention
"There is no shortage of productive jobs that can be done which would be ‘safe’ in this social distancing era but would provide valuable outputs to society.

The Victorian Government announced, for example, in their – Economic Survival Package To Support Businesses And Jobs (March 21, 2020) – that:

The Government will establish a $500 million Working for Victoria Fund in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council. The fund will help workers who have lost their jobs find new opportunities, including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food – providing vital contributions to our state’s response to the pandemic and affording those Victorians security when its needed most.


There is so much depleted land, infrastructure and personal care services that are required arising not only from .. natural disasters but also from years of austerity and outsources of public services.


There will probably be a shortage of medical support staff. Thousands of jobs could be created to ease the load in the short-term on the depleted health care ranks.


And if we are to protect our aged members of the population, then we could ensure they are secure in their homes with adequate food and other supplies, are able to maintain their gardens (if they have them), and attend to other needs.


And what about the claims that these shifts cannot be facilitated quickly enough to avoid mass unemployment?


The women who entered the factories in 1939 had no prior background. But productivity rose quickly.


There is no financial constraint preventing the Government from taking on this role."

"and wages surged higher"--by which they mean, "and wages only fell a little behind inflation". Just so we're clear.
And of course, when you get into the article you find out that's "average" wages. That may be a bit skewed--I mean, CEO pay has gone up like 50% or something, and I expect upper executive pay has followed that lead to a lesser extent. Sure, there may be only 1 CEO for 10,000 workers, but if they're making a thousand times as much, that's still gonna impact the average; add in a couple dozen executives making a mere hundred times as much, and you can see that if the "average" increase is some percentage, but the top end increase is five times as big, then the bottom half probably got a significantly lower percentage.

Actually, lemme do a bit of math. So, firm with 10,000 workers, 1 CEO making salary of 1,000 workers, 20 executives making salary of 100 workers each. So, total of 13,000 worker-paychecks of compensation at start.
Now, say the workers get a 5% raise; they're now getting 10,500 WPs. And CEO & Execs increase their wages by 50%; they're now getting 4,500 WPs. New total is 15,000 WPs, total increase 2,000 WPs. 2,000/13,000 = an "average" increase of over 15%. But the actual people only got 5%. The real world is not as stark as this . . . but we're getting pretty damn close. So beware of anything people say about wages that talks about "average" wages. Ask for median wages, ask for figures for the bottom 50% of wages and so on.