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Summer of discontent shaping up for students

A man looks through jobs at a Human Resources office in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

It is a rite of passage: Each spring, students begin internships, start waiting tables on patios or knock on doors for work as painters or landscapers.

No doubt, landing those jobs got more difficult through the recession and have stayed tough since. Last summer, the average number of hours worked at all student jobs was among the lowest since data-keeping began in 1977.

A first indication of this season's hiring activity will come on Friday, when Statistics Canada releases its summer labour market for students in tandem with its labour force survey.

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It's shaping up to be a summer of discontent for many young people – as Quebec's demonstrations show.

Not only is it is more difficult to find well-paying jobs, but also tuition costs are outpacing inflation and student debt is ballooning.

Nearly a million young Canadians were neither in school nor holding down a job last year, a Statistics Canada study found last week – for reasons ranging from having babies to being on sick leave, doing volunteer work or feeling too discouraged to look for work.

The survey found that 13 per cent of the nearly seven million Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 weren't in school nor at work last year.

Last year, the jobless rate in May for students in their early twenties was 15 per cent, an improvement from 2010's 16.5 per cent.

For the whole summer of 2011, among all students the unemployment rate was 17.2 per cent – higher than the previous year and above 2006 to 2008 levels.

Statscan tracks the job market for students from May to August, for people aged 15 to 24 (who must have been attending school, full time, in March and plan to return to school in the fall).

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This week's initial release on student employment will reflect how the 20- to 24-year-olds are doing, given that teenagers aren't yet out of school for the summer.

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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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