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The Globe and Mail

Postsecondary students feel sting of recession

People wait in line at a job fair.

Paul Sakuma/Paul Sakuma/AP

Few groups in Canada were hit as hard by the recession as students.

The jobless rate for postsecondary students actively looking for work rose to 9 per cent in the 2009-2010 academic year, from 6.5 per cent in 2007-2008 before the economic downtown. The overall employment rate, meantime, fell to 45 per cent from prerecession levels of 48 per cent two years earlier, according to a Statistics Canada paper published Wednesday.

"Students have not been immune to the recent economic downturn as they experienced a drop in their employment rate and average hours worked," the study said.

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Between October, 2008, and October, 2009, employment fell by 225,000 jobs among people aged 15 to 24 - representing more than half of the total job losses in Canada, a previous Statscan study has found.

Students are facing rising costs, such as tuition fees, and increased competition to enter certain programs "just as their employment prospects fade," the Statscan paper said.

About half of female students held a job in the 2009-2010 school year while attending college or university, compared with 40 per cent of men. As well, 49 per cent of Canadian-born students worked, compared with 32 per cent of foreign students.

The summer of 2009 was the worst for students since the recession years of 1982 and 1993, and the summer just gone by was only marginally better. This past summer, the average income was about $6,300 and the student jobless rate was 16.8 per cent - higher than before the recession though down from a year earlier when it hit 19.2 per cent.

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About the Authors

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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