A record 1.3 million new immigrants came to Canada between 2016 and 2021. These newcomers experienced lower unemployment rates than any other cohorts.
Statistics Canada recently released its census data on jobs in Canada. Immigrants accounted for 27.7 percent of the core-age (ages 25 to 54) labour force in 2021, an increase of two percentage points since 2016. Recent immigrants, who landed in Canada five years earlier or less, made up 5.7 percent of the labour force in 2021, up one percentage point from 2016.
In May 2021, immigrants for 36.3 percent of all core-aged employment in accommodation and food services; 37.8 percent of transportation and warehousing workers; 34.1 percent of those working in professional, scientific and technical services; and 20.1 percent of construction employees.
Recent immigrant unemployment down
Although Canada welcomes high numbers of immigrants, challenges such as credential recognition and others typically lead recent immigrants to have higher unemployment rates.
The challenges are ongoing, but the gap between the unemployment rate of recent immigrants and other workers was smaller in 2021 than in 2016. Among core-aged recent immigrants, the unemployment rate was 10.9 percent in May 2021, while the rate for non-immigrants was 7.7 percent, a gap of 3.2 percentage points. In 2016, the gap was five percentage points. At that time, the unemployment rate was 11 percent for recent immigrants and 6 percent for non-immigrants.
Recent core-age immigrants were also more likely than the previous five-year cohort to be employed in industries with above-average hourly wages such as professional, scientific and technical services; finance and insurance; and transportation and warehousing.
Statistics Canada offers two reasons why this may have been the case:
- Immigrants who got permanent residency between 2016 and 2021 were more highly educated than any previous cohort, according tothe census release on education. Nearly 6 in 10 held a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- More than one-third of recent immigrants had pre-admission experience in Canada as workers or international students. The majority of recent immigrants with previous Canadian experience had held a temporary work permit. Working in Canada before getting permanent resident has statistically been shown to improve immigrants’ labour market outcomes.