Unemployment shifts - higher among youth, lower among prime working age
The youth unemployment rate in September was the highest it has been in over two years
By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 10 October 2023 2 min read
The unemployment rate in Alberta held steady last month at 5.7%, but there was movement when looking at the rate by age group.
For those in the 15 to 24 cohort, the unemployment rate went from 12.1% in August to 13.5% in September and has been on an upward trend since the spring (the data have been adjusted to account for regular seasonal patterns). As a result, the youth unemployment rate is averaging 11.7% so far this year compared to 10.8% over the course of 2022.
Although starting at a much lower level, the unemployment rate among Albertans 55 and over also went up in September, rising half a percentage point to 5.0%—its highest reading since January. Despite this uptick, the average unemployment rate since January is below the 2022 average (4.7% versus 5.9%).
The unemployment rate of the big group in the middle—those aged 25-54—has fallen to its lowest level in over a year at 4.3% in September and is averaging roughly the same as it was last year.
One might think that an influx of new job seekers was driving up the unemployment rate among the younger and older groups, but both cohorts have seen their participation rate* decline over the course of the year.
The participation rate for the 15-24 age group was down by 4.9 percentage points in September compared to the 2022 average while the participation rate for those 55 and over was off by 0.7 points. (The participation rate for the 25-54 group was down 0.9 points.)
Since the margin of error is greater for the 15-24 and 55 and over age groups than for the 25-54 group, month-to-month changes should be interpreted with more caution. However, the trend over several months does point to an increase in unemployment among those 15 to 24.
*The participation rate is the total labour force (those working and those actively looking for work) expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over.
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