Canada has become completely reliant on immigrants for job growth, and the proof can be found in StatsCan’s latest employment data.
For only the second time on record, the number of immigrants with a job grew over the last year, while the number of Canadian-born people with a job shrank.
But don’t conclude just yet that “immigrants are stealing our jobs,” as the old xenophobic adage goes. This seems to be a case of Canadians aging out of the workforce, and younger immigrants taking their place.
There were 93,300 fewer jobs held by Canadian-born people in May of this year than there were a year earlier, according to Statistics Canada data. Meanwhile, the number of jobs held by immigrants jumped by more than 261,000.
But the numbers show that the Canadian-born labour force — the available pool of workers in the country — is also shrinking, down by 102,000 in the past year. As Canadian Baby Boomers age into retirement, the locally born labour force isn't large enough to replace them.
Or as analysts at Bloomberg Benchmark put it, “Canada’s demographic tipping point has arrived, and without immigrants — who have a much younger demographic profile — there will be no growth.”
There is also another reason for strong immigrant job growth, which is the oil price collapse. As Alberta and other oil-producing regions suffer through a recession, job growth is concentrating in Toronto and Vancouver, which have higher immigrant populations than the rest of the country.
But this is not to suggest that immigrants have it better in the workforce. The data also shows they continue to have a higher unemployment rate — 7.8 per cent in May, compared to 7.1 per cent for the locally born.
For immigrants who have been in Canada for fewer than five years, the jobless rate is much higher. It was 11.6 per cent in May, and has tracked four to seven percentage points higher than the Canadian average for the past decade at least.