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Upturn in youth jobs picture seems more than a blip

People pore over jobs listings at a jobs centre in Toronto.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

For months on end, the jobs picture among Canadian youth has been either little improved or deteriorating.

That shifted Friday, with a report showing 16,300 new jobs were added for the 15-to-24-year-old crowd last month. That was sufficient to bring their unemployment rate down to 14 per cent from 14.7 per cent in October.

Employment levels have risen for all age categories except for youth in the past year, where they are still below year-ago levels (despite last month's gains). But while one month does not make a trend, it is still a welcome change to see any improvement at all.

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At 14 per cent, "the unemployment rate for youth is now on par with where it was in early spring, a significant improvement from the high of 15 per cent it reached in September," noted economists at the Conference Board of Canada.

Given that holiday season is beckoning, it would be easy to assume these are all low-paying mall jobs.

That's not the case, according to Statistics Canada. While the numbers by age group aren't seasonally adjusted, the agency used alternative measures to look at where the jobs were.

It finds most positions were in the goods sector, with a mix of permanent and temp employment. And they were all in full time.

It will take a few more months to know if this signals a real turning point, or was just a one-month blip.

As for which group is faring the best – once again, it's older women. Employment levels among women over the age of 55 have climbed 6.8 per cent in the past year, the biggest percentage gain of all demographic groups.

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About the Author

Tavia Grant has worked at The Globe and Mail since early 2005, covering topics from employment and currency markets to trade, microfinance and Latin American economies. She previously worked for Bloomberg News in Toronto and Zurich, writing on mining, stocks, currencies and secret Swiss bank accounts. More

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