It’s a catch-22 for young people: you can’t get a job without work experience, and you can’t get work
experience without a job. Unemployment rates for youth have traditionally been higher than those for
older workers, but in Alberta, at least, the situation is improving.
In January, the unemployment rate for Alberta youth aged 15 to 24 was 7.8 per cent—the lowest rate for this age group since November 2008. It also compares favourably with the national youth unemployment rate of 13.5 per cent (adjusted for seasonality).
Not only is the incidence of youth unemployment much better in Alberta, but it’s been improving at a faster rate. Compared to the peak rates of unemployment in March 2010, the current rate in this province is lower by 6.0 percentage points. Nationally, however, the youth unemployment rate is down from its recessionary peak by only 2.9 percentage points—and it has been nearly unchanged over the past three years.
Alberta’s strong economy is obviously the reason for lower youth unemployment rates. Still, it doesn’t mean that finding work is always easy. Many students and recent graduates still struggle to find work in their desired fields, and wages are often quite low for young and inexperienced job seekers.
As well, teenagers and students are generally not as mobile between regions of the country as are
older workers. It may be somewhat easier for young people to find work in Alberta, but that may
be of little consolation for youth in other provinces. *
*Todd Hirsch, Senior Economist, ATB Financial