Study: Youth neither enrolled in school nor employed, 2011

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In 2011, 13%, or 904,000, of the 6.8 million Canadians aged 15 to 29 were neither in school nor did they have a job. This proportion, which has changed little during the past decade, has been among the lowest of all G7 nations.

People in this age group who are neither enrolled in school nor employed are referred to by the acronym 'NEET.' The NEET concept emerged in the 1990s when jobless, out-of-school youth in several European countries were considered at risk of becoming discouraged and disengaged. This indicator is now regularly produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The 904,000 NEET young people in 2011 consisted of 391,000 who were looking for work and 513,000 not looking for work. The remaining 5.9 million youth (87%) were equally split into those in school and those with a job.

The 391,000 unemployed youth aged 15 to 29 represented an unemployment rate of 11.8% among young people not in school.

Among the unemployed, 55,000 had been looking for work for more than six months. These long-term unemployed represented 1% of all youth and 14% of unemployed youth. This was the lowest proportion of long-term unemployed young people among the G7 nations.

Young men aged 15 to 24 were significantly more likely to be unemployed than men aged 25 to 29 and young women in both age ranges. A higher level of education significantly reduced the likelihood of being unemployed. In addition, young people who were married and without children were significantly less likely to be unemployed than single youth.

Also, after controls were in place for other factors, youth living at home had significantly higher odds of being unemployed than those not living at home. This could reflect the difficulty of living on one's own without a job.

Different factors were related to not participating in the labour force. For example, women who were married with children were significantly less likely to participate than women who were single. However, being married with children significantly increased the participation rate for men.

Excluding students, young people who were not in the labour force had significantly lower levels of education compared with their counterparts in the labour force.

Among young people who were not in the labour force, one in five reported that they wanted a job, despite the fact that they were not looking for one. About one-half reported a reason for not looking, which included being too discouraged about finding work, waiting for recall and being too sick.

Most of those not in the labour force did not want a job (82%). A sizeable minority of this group (40%) were parents of young children, students in non-traditional programs, or permanently unable to work. According to the General Social Survey, others may be involved in unpaid household work, volunteering or leisure.

Note to readers

This study was based on data from the Labour Force Survey and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development methodology for determining the NEET indicator. It examined Canadian rates for young people aged 15 to 29 who were neither enrolled in school nor had a job, as well as their characteristics and activities. Youth in this age group were classified into three main groups: those attending school in a regular educational system, the employed, and those neither attending school nor employed.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers survey number3701 and survey number4503.

The article "Youth neither enrolled nor employed" is now available in the May 2012 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 24, no. 2 (Catalogue number75-001-X, free), from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Katherine Marshall (613-951-6890;, Labour Statistics Division.

For more information on Perspectives on Labour and Income, contact Ted Wannell (613-951-3546;, Labour Statistics Division.