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Discouraged job seekers, Canada and the United States

Discouraged job seekers are those who are not in the labour force but want work and are available to work, even though they are not seeking work because they believe they cannot find a suitable job. Persons who are not in the labour force but want workalsoinclude those who report not seeking a job for other reasons—illness, personal or family responsibilities, school, awaiting recall to a former job or replies to earlier job searches, etc.

In Canada, the number of discouraged job seekers aged 25 to 54 (defined as 'core age' by labour analysts) fell by more than half (55.9%) from 25,600 in 2002 to 11,300 in 2007. This rate of decline is almost 12 times as large as the 4.8% decline in the United States, from 209,000 to 199,000, over the same period.

Also, the share of discouraged job seekers in the core-age group (as a percentage of the population that is not in the labour force but wants work) dropped to 6.2% in 2007 in Canada from 12.3% in 2002, while it changed little in the U.S., edging down to 9.5% from 10.1% over the same period. 

Proportion of discouraged job seekers aged 25 to 54 in Canada and the U.S.

Chart: Incidence of discouraged job seekers aged 25 to 54 in Canada and the U.S.

At the provincial level, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Ontario saw their discouraged job seekers drop by half on average. Not surprisingly, Alberta did not seem to have any discouraged job seekers during the 2002 to 2007 period.

The number of discouraged job seekers generally increases during economic downturns and decreases in times of expansion. Discouraged job seekers are often referred to as the 'hidden unemployed', and estimates of this group are considered as a supplementary measure of unemployment.

Table: Discouraged job seekers aged 25 to 54 in Canada and the U.S.

Table
Discouraged job seekers aged 25 to 54 in Canada and the U.S.


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