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Aboriginal workers and jobs in Western Canada

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The proportion of off-reserve Aboriginal people with a job in Western Canada increased from 54% in 2001 to 57% in 2004/2005. However, it remained well below the 65% employment rate for non-Aboriginal people. In 2004/2005, unemployment rates for off-reserve Aboriginal people in Western Canada averaged 2.5 times higher than the rates for non-Aboriginal people.

Entering the labour market was particularly difficult for off-reserve Aboriginal workers aged 15 to 24. In 2004/2005, their employment rate was about 44%. In addition, the unemployment rate for young Aboriginal workers was more than double the rate for young non-Aboriginal people.

Many Aboriginal people had difficulties in the job market; however, postsecondary education helped a large portion of off-reserve Aboriginal people improve their chances of finding employment. In 2004/2005, in all Western provinces combined, 83% of Aboriginal people aged 25 to 64 who had completed a postsecondary education were working—almost as high as the percentage for non-Aboriginal people with the same level of education.

Chart: Employment rates, non-Aboriginal and off-reserve Aboriginal people in Western Canada, 2004/2005Off-reserve Aboriginal workers in Alberta have benefited from the province’s economic prosperity. In 2004/2005, they had a 63% employment rate, the highest of any Aboriginal population in any Western province.

Métis people also had relative success in the labour market, with employment rates similar to those of non-Aboriginal people. In 2004/2005, 64% of Métis people aged 15 and over were employed. The only exceptions were Saskatchewan’s Métis, whose employment rate was close to the 57% average for Aboriginal groups in Western Canada. North American Indians in Saskatchewan had the lowest Aboriginal employment rate in Western Canada.