Unemployment rate, 1990–2011

In 2011, the youth unemployment rate in Canada (14.2%) was higher than it was 30 years ago—12.8% in 1981. And, the youth unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average (14.2% vs. 7.4%). The outlook for employment for youth and young adults has shown some improvement in the last decade, but rates for young males are still high at nearly 16%.


NEET—not in employment, education, or training—is a fairly new phenomena and a growing concern to policymakers. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011, nearly a million young people age 15 to 29 years were considered NEET. Among this group, 391,000 were actively looking for work, while the other 513,000 were not.1 Being unable to find work and being out of school over a long period of time takes a major toll on the health and well-being of young people. It can create a sense of uselessness and idleness that can lead to increased mental health problems, substance use, and violence.2

1Marshall K. (2012). “Youth Neither Enrolled Nor Employed.” Statistics Canada. Accessed on June 29, 2012 at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2012002/article/11675-eng.pdf.
2As cited in Canada’s Public Policy Forum (2012). “Employment Challenges for Canadian Youth in a Changing Economy.” Accessed on June 29, 2012 at http://www.ppforum.ca/sites/default/files/Youth%20Backgrounder%20-%20FINAL%20EN.pdf