Atlantic Canadian youth more educated but have fewer jobs, less pay: report

Hiring Sign
FILE - In this Wednesday, May 18, 2016, file photo, a woman passes a "We're Hiring!" sign while entering a clothing store in the Downtown Crossing of Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

This generation’s Atlantic Canadian youth may be more educated when compared to a generation ago but fewer have jobs and they’re being paid less, according to a new report card from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).

In an attempt to assess labour market outcomes, the report focused on 25- to 29-year-olds in the region.

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Atlantic Canadians more educated than other Canadians as a whole

According to the report card, 72 per cent of youth in the age group have a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree compared to the 50 per cent who reached that level in 1990.

The increase was driven by a surge in the number of university graduates, which has more than doubled to 31 per cent in the age group.

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Among the 25-29 age group, Atlantic Canadians hold more graduate degrees than those in other provinces. Nova Scotia has the highest proportion of graduate degrees in the country in that age group, with 11 per cent of 25- to 29-year-olds in the province holding one.

Only 4,400 people, or less than four per cent, of the age group in the region don’t have a high school degree, which is far below the national average of 5.6 percent. All three Maritime provinces actually have the lowest rates in the country.

Youth in Atlantic Canadian Provinces are have lower employment rates than other provinces in the country. Atlantic Provinces Economic Council


Only P.E.I. had a higher employment level than the national average of 79 per cent in 2016. According to the APEC report, the three other Atlantic provinces have the lowest employment rates in the country.

Wages are at a comparable state, with youth in the maritime provinces earning an average of $20.49 in wages per hour.  That’s much lower than the national rate of $23.55.

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Only Newfoundland and Labrador youth held hourly wages similar to the country’s average at $23.31 per hour.

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A need to leave

All of these factors contribute to the what APEC reports is a “persistent net outflow” of youth in the region.

“Those who leave earn more than those who stay,” said Fred Bergman, APEC’s senior policy analyst. “According to a recent Statistics Canada study, one year after graduation, males with an undergraduate degree who left the Maritimes earned 24 per cent more than their peers who stayed. The difference was 10 per cent or less for females and those with a graduate degree.”

According to APEC about 13,000 Atlantic youth, or 4.5 per cent of the population aged 20-29 left the region in 2015/2016. That was slightly offest by 9,300 youth moving into the region from elsewhere in Canada.

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A recommendation from the report is that the region should retain a higher proportion of the 13,400 international university students in the region, as it would help offset the migration of Atlantic youth.

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