Immigrants lag behind Canadian-born in job prospects

Immigrants are less likely to have a job than their Canadian-born counterparts, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday.

The data agency says the employment rate for what it calls core-aged immigrants (those between the ages of 25 and 54) was 75.6 per cent last year. That lags behind the employment rate of 82.9 per cent for people born in Canada.

Employment among landed immigrants in the agency's core working-age group increased 4.3 per cent from the previous year.

But despite the uptick in the level of employment, the employment rate for immigrants is still 1.8 percentage points lower than it was in 2008, before the economic slowdown started.

"This was mostly because their growth in employment did not keep pace with the growth in their population," the data agency says.

The 1.8 percentage point slowdown is larger than the 1.2 percentage point decline seen in the Canadian-born workforce over that timeframe.

Employment prospects for immigrants also appear to improve over time. Only 63.5 per cent of core-aged immigrants who had been in Canada for five years or less last year had jobs. But for those who have been in Canada for more than a decade, the rate jumped to 79.8 per cent.

Indeed, there were also wide differences across the different regions of the country. Immigrants living on the Prairies and in British Columbia accounted for more than half the growth in employment among landed immigrants.

And in Alberta, the gap in employment rates between immigrants and the Canadian born was among the lowest in the country. In fact, established immigrants in the province had an employment rate of 85.6 per cent last year, higher than that of their Canadian-born counterparts, who had an 84.4 per cent employment rate.

That contrasts with Quebec, which has the lowest core-aged employment rate in the country, at 70.3 per cent.

The numbers also show wide variances along gender lines. Last year, the employment rate for core-aged male immigrants was 83 per cent. That compares with 85.5 per cent for Canadian-born men. The employment gap between immigrant women and their Canadian-born counterparts was much wider — with an employment rate of 68.8 per cent for the former and 80.3 for the latter.

Women who were very recent immigrants had a much lower employment rate of 52.5 per cent, Statistics Canada said.

And the employment rate among different ethnic groups is also all over the map. Since 2006, when Statistics Canada started tracking the immigrant labour force, people from the Philippines have had the highest employment rate among all ethnic groups, at 85.6 per cent.

The Filipino employment rate even outpaces that of people born in Canada, the agency says. After the Philippines and Canada, immigrants from Europe have the third-highest employment rate.

With a 73.1 per cent employment rate, Asian-born immigrants lag most ethnic groups, as do African immigrants, who have an employment rate of 70.1 per cent.

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