The decline in Canada’s labour force participation rate is particularly acute among the country’s youth, according to data from Statistics Canada. 

Labour participants are those who are employed, or who are available and actively seeking a job when they are not. 

The labour force participation rate for that cohort of Canadians dropped to 62.7% last month, falling three full percentage points from last April. 

According to the survey, women within that demographic fell even lower to 62.5%, the lowest rate since 2000. 

During the worst months of the pandemic, the rate didn’t dip below 67%.  

Youth non-participants, those aged 15 to 24 who are not in the job market or employed, have increased by about 200,000 over the past year, bringing the total to 1.9 million. 

Of that figure, 6.8% said that they wanted to work but have not searched for a job, up from 5.8% who held that position last January. 

Ontario saw the highest increase in labour participation, going up 0.3% in January, bringing it back up from a 0.5% drop in December. The province’s employment rate currently holds at 60.8%.

However, it remains down 1.4 percentage points on a year-over-year basis. 

Newfoundland and Labrador saw an increase of 3.2%, following six months of a stagnant participation rate. 

There has been little change in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec, over the past several months.

The majority of respondents in the survey cited attending school as the reason for not searching for work. 

That response is consistent with a study published in January by RBC economists Rachel Battaglia and Carrie Freestone, which found the majority of the unemployed cohort to either be students or recent graduates 

“The share of younger Canadians with postsecondary education has continued to rise, and hiring demand has softened sharply in industries like professional services and finance jobs where there’s a higher number of recent postsecondary graduates struggling to find a job,” reads the study.

For those who are looking, the landscape is tougher now than it was a couple years ago, with the youth unemployment rate at 10.8%, up from 9.3% in 2022. 

However, the study asserts that there is nothing new about this trend for young people.

“Of course, it is not unusual for younger workers to bear the brunt of a labour market slowdown. Unemployment rates have historically risen faster for younger cohorts during recessionary periods – and this cycle doesn’t appear to be an exception. Not only are employees with the shortest tenures and the least experience typically the first to be let go,” reads the study.