Accueil » 58-2 ( 2003) » Le chômage des jeunes au Québec et au Canada : tendances et caractéristiques

Le chômage des jeunes au Québec et au Canada : tendances et caractéristiques

Mircea Vultur

Résumé

Dans cet article, nous présentons, tout d’abord, les grandes lignes d’évolution du chômage des jeunes au Québec et au Canada, depuis 1976, ainsi qu’une série de facteurs à la source de cette évolution. Nous comparons, en deuxième lieu, le chômage des jeunes avec celui des adultes. L’analyse des indicateurs relatifs, de la durée et de l’indice de gravité du chômage des 15–24 ans et 25 ans ou plus montre qu’en dépit du fait que les taux de chômage des jeunes ont été systématiquement plus élevés et plus dépendants des fluctuations de l’économie, la situation des jeunes au regard du chômage a enregistré une amélioration relative de ses divers paramètres par rapport au chômage des adultes. Enfin, nous analysons le chômage des jeunes en fonction de la tranche d’âge, de la fréquentation scolaire et du niveau d’études. En conclusion, nous présentons des considérations sur les caractéristiques et les perspectives d’évolution du chômage des jeunes au Québec et au Canada.

Abstract

Youth Unemployment in Quebec and Canada: Characterization and Trends

In this article, we seek to identify the trends that have played out since 1976 and marked developments in unemployment among youth aged 15–24 both in Quebec and in Canada. We also propose a number of characterizing indicators. After briefly reviewing the place of young people within the labour market, we outline the changes in youth unemployment and identify several underlying factors. Our analysis reveals cyclical changes in the youth unemployment rate which is consistently above average and more directly tied to fluctuations in the economy.

The scope and evolution of youth unemployment stem from many developments that have had an impact on the Quebec and Canadianeconomies since 1976. These are: (1) age and generational effects which caused an unprecedented flow of youth into the labour market in the 1970s, (2) the 1975 oil crisis that hammered Western economies, (3) the revision of the 1971 Unemployment Insurance Act, (4) the economic slumps of 1982 and 1992, and (5) beginning in 1990, the implementation of both flexible outsourcing as a business strategy and of the federal government’s restrictive monetary policy.

Next, we compare youth and adult unemployment. Through comparative analysis of relative indicators, duration and the unemployment severity index since 1976 for the 15–24 age group and for adults 25 years and over, we discover that although youth unemployment rates have been consistently higher and more responsive to economic fluctuations that have adult employment rates, the youth unemployment situation has improved relative to the adult unemployment situation.

We then analyze youth unemployment with reference to age group, school attendance and level of schooling and uncover some significant facts. First of all, young people aged 15–19, who have a lower level of education than those aged 20–24, are more likely to be jobless than older youth who have studied longer, have more work experience and thus stand a better chance of finding employment. Second, the growth in school attendance is not a situational response to worsening job conditions for youth since cyclical economic fluctuations have had no visible impact on such changes. Apparently, growth in school attendance results, instead, from a strong emphasis on education, on the supposition that a higher level of education is required for a competitive edge in the labour market. Third, the new instability of highly skilled jobs, as reflected in spreading unemployment, heralds erosion of the job security that graduates previously enjoyed. A high level of education alone cannot guarantee solid labour market integration, and the negative correlation between level of education and risk of unemployment is not as clear for today’s youth as it was for previous generations.

Our comparative evaluation suggests that joblessness among youth is a short-term situation that is part of the professional integration process. This is often frictional unemployment in that it corresponds to an in-between-job period and thus apparently stems from movements in the employment structure. Furthermore, at this time, the economy evidently does not marginalize young people for the benefit of working adults or retirees. Instead, we are looking at a dual movement that consists, upstream, in delaying job market stability for young people and downstream, in accelerating the exit of workers 55 and over through phased retirement, early retirement or layoff. This does not corroborate the “generational conflict” theory since labour market dysfunction burdens each age group in a distinct manner.

Resumen

El desempleo de los jóvenes en Quebec y Canadá: tendencias y características

En este artículo presentamos primero las grandes lineas de la evolución del desempleo de los jóvenes en Quebec y Canadá desde 1976, y una serie de factores al origen de esta evolución. Comparamos enseguida el desempleo de los jóvenes respecto al de los adultos. El análisis de indicadores relativos, la dureza y el indice de gravedad del desempleo de los jóvenes de 15 a 24 años y de 25 años y más, muestra que a pesar que las tasas de desempleo de los jóvenes han sido sistemáticamente mas elevados y mas dependientes de las fluctuaciones de la economía, la situación de los jóvenes respecto al desempleo ha registrado una mejora relativa de sus diversos parámetros en comparación con el desempleo de los adultos. Finalemente, analizamos el desempleo de los jóvenes en función del grupo de edad, la frecuentación escolar y el nivel de estudios. En conclusión, presentamos ciertas consideraciones sobre las características y perspectivas de evolución del desempleo de los jóvenes en Quebec y Canadá.