Philip CrossMLI Senior Fellow has found that current measurements tend to exaggerate the problem of youth unemployment

OTTAWA, July 19, 2016 – Youth unemployment figures are higher than ever. But is the problem of unemployed young Canadians really as bad as the numbers make it out to be?

Philip Cross, the author of a comprehensive study of youth unemployment in Canada for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, is available to comment on the latest figures showing a high number of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 who don’t have jobs.

Cross’ 2015 study adopts a different take than the narrative regularly peddled in the news media: Youth unemployment isn’t getting worse; we’re just measuring it wrong.

Cross delves into the numbers to show that chatter about a “crisis” in youth unemployment fails to stand up to scrutiny.

The reason? The numbers on which this overheated rhetoric relies treat teenagers and those in their early 20s as equal.

They’re not.

“Those who decry poor labour market conditions for young people are implying these trends disadvantage all the 2.9 million youth in the labour force, when it mostly affects the one million teenagers between 15 and 19 years,” writes Cross in the study.

This distinction is an important one. The challenges facing teenagers (those aged 15 to 19) and young adults (those aged 20 to 24) are different.

While a high percentage of teenagers are unemployed, they increasingly continue to live at home, attend school, and receive support from their parents.


Philip Cross is a Senior Fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. He previously served as the Chief Economic Analyst for Statistics Canada, part of a 36-year career with the agency.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

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