New Poll Shows Canada's Unemployed Are Increasingly Stuck

The State of Canada's Unemployed - Third Annual National Survey

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 13, 2016) -

  • 36% Have Given Up Looking for a Job

  • 74% Say Current Minimum Wage is Not Enough

  • 63% of Unemployed University Grads Wish They Had Gone to Vocational School

  • Slight Optimism for Policies of Prime Minister Trudeau, Alberta Policies Have Lowest Support Provincially

Express Employment Professionals today released the third annual State of the Unemployed national survey which shows Canada's unemployed are increasingly stuck - with difficulty getting interviews and work. Canada's unemployed are now out of work for an average of 16 months, compared to 14 months in 2015. Nearly half (44 per cent) have not had a full time job in more than a year.

The survey results confirm that a significant number of unemployed Canadians have completely given up looking for a job. It also confirms that minimum wage may not be an attractive solution. Additionally, a majority of unemployed university graduates say they wish they had gone to vocational school.

The survey of 1,892 Canadians from May 5 to May 31, 2016, was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals.

More than half of the unemployed (54 per cent) say they believe the country is going in the wrong direction. They believe the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will either have no impact or be slightly positive, while they generally believe provincial governments have little impact. The unemployed are most pessimistic about the provincial government in Alberta.

"The annual State of the Unemployed in Canada survey is unique in that it provides Canadian employers and policy makers with critical insight into how we can get people back into the workforce. With 37 franchises across Canada, Express wants to understand the challenges unemployed Canadians face and what would inspire and incentivize them to re-join the workforce," said Bob Funk CEO of Express Employment Professionals. "This year's poll confirms that the unemployed in Canada are increasingly stuck. They are having difficulty securing a job and the challenge is getting harder. We need businesses and labour joining together to teach more skills to workers, especially to young people. There are high-paying trade jobs available, but there are not enough people with the skills needed."

Highlights of the poll:

Given Up

  • 36 per cent have "completely given up on looking for a job" (38 per cent in 2015, 39 per cent in 2014). Fifty-nine per cent of the long-term unemployed (more than two years) have given up.

Lack of Interviews

  • 49 per cent have not had an interview in the last month.
  • 25 per cent of total unemployed have not had an interview since Q4 2014 or earlier.
  • 44 per cent have not had a full time job in over a year.

Job Search Effort Level

  • 82 per cent find it hard to keep effort level high in their job search.

Vocational Skills

  • 63 per cent of unemployed university graduates wish they had a vocational skill.

Minimum Wage is Not a Viable Solution for the Unemployed in Canada

  • 74 per cent "don't apply for jobs that offer minimum wage because it's just not enough to pay the bills."

System Benefits the Rich

  • 85 per cent believe that "the economic system set up in Canada only benefits the rich."

View on the Impact of Government Policies Creating Jobs

Prime Minister Trudeau

  • 42 per cent say his election will have no impact.
  • 40 per cent say his election will have a positive impact.
  • 18 per cent say it will have a negative impact.

Alberta government policies

  • 37 per cent negative impact
  • 35 per cent no impact
  • 27 per cent positive impact

Saskatchewan government policies

  • 42 per cent no impact
  • 38 per cent positive impact
  • 20 per cent negative impact

Ontario government policies

  • 53 per cent no impact
  • 24 per cent positive impact
  • 23 per cent negative impact

BC government policies

  • 56 per cent no impact
  • 23 per cent negative impact
  • 21 per cent positive impact

Employment Insurance Remains Popular

  • Seventy-four per cent of unemployed Canadians believe employment insurance gives them a cushion so they can take their time to search for a job (76 per cent in 2015, 77 per cent in 2014). Sixty-seven per cent say it allows them to take time for themselves (75 per cent in 2015 and 74 per cent in 2014).

The Unemployed in Canada - Who They Are

According to the survey, 55 per cent of the unemployed are men; 45 per cent are women.

The largest group of the unemployed is the youngest age group:

  • 34 per cent are ages 18-29
  • 24 per cent are ages 30-39
  • 23 per cent are ages 40-49
  • 14 per cent are ages 50-59
  • 5 per cent are 60 or older

The majority lack a university degree:

  • 12 per cent did not complete high school
  • 29 per cent received only a high school diploma
  • 10 per cent completed trade certificate or diploma
  • 21 per cent have a certificate or Diploma from a Community College, CEGEP
  • 9 per cent attended university but did not receive a degree
  • 5 per cent hold an associate degree
  • 9 per cent hold a bachelor's degree
  • 5 percent have a graduate degree

According to Statistics Canada, there are approximately 1.4 million unemployed Canadians. The total labour force was estimated to be 19.4 million. The labour force participation rate, or those actively engaged in the labour market, continues to hover around 66 per cent.

This study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals and included 1,892 Canadian adults age 18 or older who are unemployed but capable of working, whether or not they receive employment insurance. Excluded are those who are currently retired, choose to stay at home or are unable to work due to long-term disability.

Results were weighted as needed for age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Totals may not equal the sum of their individual components due to rounding. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

Download an infographic for the release.

Survey Methodology

  • Memo from Harris Poll - PDF
  • Study by Harris Poll - PDF

If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Kellie Major at (613) 222-7488.

About Robert A. Funk

Robert A. "Bob" Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than 6 million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

About Express Employment Professionals and Express in Canada

Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $3.02 billion in sales and employed a record 500,002 people in 2015. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually. Express launched in Canada in July 1996, with a franchise in London, Ontario, and since then, has expanded and grown across Canada significantly. There are currently 37 Express franchises in Canada - six in British Columbia, five in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan, 23 in Ontario and one in Nova Scotia.

Contact Information:

Media Contacts:
Kellie Major

Sherry Kast