Female, racialized and young Canadians less likely to benefit from jobs increase

Among visible minorities, Filipino Canadians had the lowest unemployment rate of 12.7 per cent, followed by 13.2 per cent for Chinese Canadians, 13.9 per cent for Latin Americans, and 14.9 per cent for South Asians (those of East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc., descent).

Despite signs that Canada’s economy is starting to recover from the pandemic — including an increase in jobs — women, youth and racialized Canadians are more likely to remain jobless, according to Statistics Canada.

Overall, Statistics Canada’s labour-force survey released on Friday found there were 246,000 more jobs in August, lowering the national unemployment rate to 10.2 per cent.

Combined to job gains since May, employment levels are within the 1.1 million jobs before the pandemic hit. Since April, nearly one million fewer Canadians are also working from home. There are also fewer Canadians facing temporary layoffs and more people now looking for work.

That’s good news for the recovery, but the overall numbers mask disparities for certain groups, particularly women, racialized Canadians and young people — groups also more likely to be doing low-wage work.

In August, women’s labour-force participation and employment levels grew at faster rates than men’s, but still lag behind in those indicators.

For example, the rate of labour force participation — those employed or seeking work relative to the size of the population — for men in the core age group of 25 to 54 was within 0.2 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels in February.

However, the participation rate is 1.3 percentage points lower for women, compared to pre-COVID levels. While a gap in the labour participation rate between genders existed before the pandemic, StatCan said the disparity in August was likely due to women taking up unpaid work, such as caring for family.

The employment rate for men also stood at 96.6 per cent of its pre-pandemic rate, one per cent higher compared to that for women.

Meanwhile, a racialized gap in the unemployment rate continues. While the unemployment rate of white Canadians was 9.4 per cent, it was 17.9 per cent for Arab Canadians, 17.6 per cent for Black Canadians, and 16.6 per cent for Southeast Asians (those of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai, etc., descent).

Among visible minorities, Filipino Canadians had the lowest unemployment rate of 12.7 per cent, followed by 13.2 per cent for Chinese Canadians, 13.9 per cent for Latin Americans, and 14.9 per cent for South Asians (those of East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc., descent).

The agency nevertheless observed strong employment growth among South Asian Canadians, with their unemployment rate falling 2.9 per cent from July.

More than one-third of Filipino and Latin American Canadians aged 15 to 69 reported living in a household experiencing financial difficulties, while 28.2 per cent of Black Canadians and 22.7 per cent of Chinese Canadians reported the same. That’s in contrast to only 15.9 per cent of white Canadians who did.

August also brought an increase in employment of recent immigrants — those who’ve been in Canada five years or less — although the agency cited a drop in immigration due to the pandemic, which has shrunk Canada’s labour force.

Similar to trends in women’s employment — whereby conditions were more severe early on in the pandemic, prompting a faster recovery toward pre-COVID-19 job levels — employment grew faster among low-wage workers, i.e., those earning less than $16.03 an hour.

Many of these workers, who are employed in service sectors such as food and accommodation, had been laid off in the early stages of the pandemic and are now returning to work. However, their employment rate is still 87.4 per cent of what it was before the pandemic.

Canadians aged 15 to 24 also face an uphill battle. Their employment was 15.3 per cent below what it was before the pandemic, by far the largest gap among main age groups.

While youth employment grew, its pace slowed significantly compared to June and July. In August, employment grew by 2.6 per cent, lower than 6.9 per cent in July and 15.4 per cent in June.

The youth unemployment rate was 23.1 per cent in August, down from 29.4 per cent in May. To compare, the unemployment rate for young Canadians peaked at 16.4 per cent during the late-2000s recession.

The unemployment rate for visible-minority youth was also far higher than for white Canadians: 32.3 per cent compared to 18 per cent.

The unemployment rate for male youth was also higher: 25.6 per cent, compared to 20.2 per cent for young women.

Employment among returning students aged 15 to 24 dropped 11.4 per cent year-over-year, with almost 90 per cent of job losses occurring in Ontario, where restrictions were eased later than in other provinces.

The labour-force survey was conducted the week of Aug. 9 to 15.