Canada is failing Black youth in employment opportunities and wages – study

By Lincoln DePradine

Black youth

Canada’s Black population is young and growing but a recently released study shows that Canada is failing new generations of Black youth in areas such as employment opportunities and wages.

The study is based on information from the 2006 and 2016 censuses conducted by Statistics Canada (StatCan).  It’s titled “Education and Labour Market Integration of Black Youth in Canada.”

The study, published in the journal “Insights on Canadian Society’’, compares Black Canadian youth with non-Black youth as they transition from childhood or adolescence to adulthood.

According to the StatCan study, the Black population in Canada doubled between 1996 and 2016, from 600,000 to 1.2 million. In 2016, more than a quarter of the Black population was less than 15 years of age, compared with 16.9 per cent of the total population. Its median age is about 30, while it is 40 years for the total population.

There persists a gap in employment rates between Black and non-Black youth, the study has indicated. It shows that in 2016, young Black males were nearly twice as likely as other young males not to have a job.

As well, while median annual wages increased in the general population from 2000 to 2015: they didn’t for Black men.

“There needs to be a serious concern about this generation,” said Antigua-born Dr Carl James, a York University professor. “This is what we see for Black youth now. It is possible as other groups become third-generation, you’re going to see more similar patterns.”

For Canadians of African descent who are able to find employment, StatCan garnered mixed feedback. It said that while Black employees were more likely to complain of “having experienced unfair treatment or discrimination at work”, 85 percent of Black women and 90 percent of Black men reported a high level of job satisfaction.

“They may be getting satisfaction based on what they make of their job” rather than what it is not, James said. “You would need some qualitative research to tease that out.”

Despite the challenges, the Black population was found to be very resilient.

“In 2016, 44 percent of Black individuals said they were ‘always’ able to bounce back quickly after hard times, compared to 33 percent among the rest of the population,” StatCan said.