It’s no secret Canadian youth have felt, and continue to feel, the lingering effects of the 2008/2009 economic downturn. It is probably safe to say that while every Canadian has, there’s little doubt that our youth have been hardest hit.

Even though the economic climate hasn’t been great for younger workers, Canada is still better off than most countries. Since the 2008/2009 recession, the unemployment rate for Canadian youth has increased from 11% to 14 – 15%, according to data provided by Chief Advisor Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté of StatCan Labour Statistics Division. This is a significant increase, and it has certainly impacted Canadian youth; however, comparatively Canadian youth are faring better than their international counterparts.

According to the latest numbers provided by LaRochelle-Côté, “Canada’s youth unemployment rate of 14.4% in 2011 was below the youth rate of 17.3% in the United States; the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] average of 16.2% and the G7 average of 16.1%.” Further, Canada’s rate is “three times lower than the highest rates in Spain (46.4%) and Greece (44.4%).” Germany is the only country that has shown to have a lower youth unemployment rate since the downturn.

While it is certainly nice to note that we’re outperforming other countries for some perspective, this doesn’t help negate the struggle for younger Canadians. One consequence of the increasing unemployment rates has been a decline in labour market participation; meaning some younger people aren’t applying for jobs.

This indicates the increased level of frustration felt among youth looking for work. StatCan data reveals that in “August 2012, 63.3% of youth either worked or looked for work compared to 68.1% in September 2008,” a shocking 4.8% decrease.

While the numbers aren’t pretty, the increase in youth unemployment and decrease in labour market participation doesn’t provide an entirely gloomy outlook.

There are more youth now attending school either full time or part time than there were four years ago. The rate of school attendance for youth aged 15 – 24 is up almost 2% from 60.4% in 2008/2009 to 62.3% in 2011/2012. While the data show that the percentage of teenagers engaged in the labour market has decreased, the percentage of working youth aged 20-24 has remained relatively stable.

StatCan data and a recent report by the OCED highlight that youth engaged in higher education are more likely to find post graduation work compared to youth who haven’t completed high school and/or further studies–so stay in school kids.  Both reports also suggest that transitioning from education to a career position has been more easily performed by youth who have worked part time while completing their studies. The combination of education and experience has proven helpful in providing a faster and smoother transition.

It should be noted that short-term unemployment is typical after graduation. It can take up to a year to find a suitable position. But, keep in mind that the overall long-term unemployment rate for Canadians is comparatively low.

There is no doubt the downturn has presented real struggles for Canadian youth. Finding work, particularly when competing against applicants who may offer years of experience, can certainly be discouraging. However, there are opportunities out there.

To assist youth in their job search, we recently posted an article that outlines tips and strategies that can help you keep on track and get ahead. Take a look and as the saying goes “make a plan, and work the plan.” It may be tough to initially get your foot in the door but with persistence it will happen.

If you’ve recently graduated from high school, college or university have you had difficulty finding employment? If you experienced quick success, share with us your job search tips.