Canada Year Book


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    Ethnic diversity and immigration

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    Finding a job is a priority for most immigrants to Canada, but many experience difficulty doing so, which leads to a widening of the employment and earnings gap between immigrants and Canadian-born workers.

    In 1980, recent-immigrant men (those who arrived within the previous five years) who had some employment income earned 85 cents for each dollar that Canadian-born men earned. By 2005, the ratio had dropped to 63 cents. The corresponding numbers for recent-immigrant women were 85 cents and 56 cents, respectively. These gaps widened even though the educational attainment of recent-immigrant earners rose much faster than that of their Canadian-born counterparts.

    During this 25-year period, the proportion of long-term immigrants with university degrees in jobs with low education requirements—such as clerks, truck drivers, salespeople, cashiers and taxi drivers—rose steadily.

    Some of the gaps are related to skill levels and proficiency in French or English. Recent immigrants are much less likely to have English or French as their mother tongue than previous generations of immigrants. Also, large numbers have completed their schooling in their home countries, often in a language other than English or French.

    Recognizing credentials

    Other factors—the non-recognition of credentials, schooling or foreign work experience, and the quality of education among nationals from some countries—also have an impact. Moreover, immigrants arriving from 1990 to 1994 entered the labour market during a particularly harsh recession and a recovery characterized by slow employment growth. Launching a career when jobless rates are high can have longer-term effects on earnings.

    Chart 13.1 Ratio of recent immigrants to total population, 2006
    View data source for chart 13.1

    Labour market performance

    In 2006, immigrants born in Southeast Asia, particularly those from the Philippines, had the strongest labour market performance (i.e., high rates of participation and employment, a low rate of unemployment) of all immigrants, regardless of when they landed.

    Among immigrants who landed in Canada from 2001 to 2006, those born in Southeast Asia had unemployment rates, employment rates and participation rates that were more or less on par with the Canadian-born population.

    Those born elsewhere in Asia (including the Middle East), as well as those born in Latin America, Europe and Africa, all had higher unemployment rates and lower employment rates in 2006 than their Canadian-born counterparts.

    Working-age immigrants born in Europe who arrived before 2001 had similar labour market outcomes as the Canadian born. However, more recent immigrants had higher employment rates than their Canadian-born peers.

    Immigrants born in Africa experienced difficulties in the labour market regardless of when they landed in Canada. In 2006, the 70,000 African-born immigrants who landed from 2001 to 2006 had a jobless rate of nearly 21%, more than four times that of the Canadian-born population.

    Chart 13.2 Unemployment rate for immigrants, by region of birth and landing period, 2006
    View data source for chart 13.2

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