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.

Recent immigrants have lower unemployment rates than earlier cohorts —Statistics Canada

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Low unemployment and nearly one million job vacancies

Canada’s overall employment was little changed last month, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage points to 5.1 percent, according to the November Labour Force Survey. The unemployment rate is just two percentage points above its record-low 4.9 percent observed in June and July.

Across all sectors, Canadian employers were seeking to fill 994,800 vacant positions in September, up by about 36,300 compared to the month earlier due to seasonal hires. Statistics Canada says as job vacancies typically peak in September. So, when data was adjusted for seasonal variations, the number of job vacancies remained stable, following three consecutive month-over-month decreases.

Some of the sectors with high numbers of job vacancies include health care and social assistance (159,500), accommodation and food services (152,400), retail trade (117,300), manufacturing (76,000 ), construction (93,900), and professional, scientific, and technical services (61,900).

Canada’s strategy to combat labour shortages is to welcome high numbers of immigrants. The Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 is calling for record numbers of new permanent residents each year, upwards of 465,000 in 2023 reaching 500,000 in 2025. Hundreds of thousands of temporary workers will join them through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

People considering a move to Canada can consult this guide to identify an appropriate immigration pathway.

Wages going up

In September, the year-over-year increase in average weekly earnings was 3.5 percent to $1,175 in September, on par with August. Average weekly earnings in the goods-producing sector outpaced the overall national average at an increase of 4.7 percent. The largest gains were recorded in forestry and logging, up 9.7 percent to $1,412, and construction up 5.7 percent to $1,457.

Inflation and housing prices could fall, Canada could avoid a recession

The Globe and Mail, citing a Goldman Sachs report, is saying that Canada may only experience a “mild” recession next year, and inflation and housing prices are expected to fall.

Earlier this summer, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) forecasted that Canada’s economy is headed for a recession in 2023. The Canadian bank predicted it will be moderate and short-lived by historical standards — and can be reversed once inflation settles enough for central banks to lower rates.

Canada’s Central Bank has spent much of 2022 trying to tame inflation by increasing interest rates. This affects the interest rates charged by retail banks on products such as mortgages, essentially making it more expensive for people to take out a loan.

The potentially good news is that the Central Bank is optimistic that its measures will help to  reduce inflation to around 3% by the end of 2023.

How is this connected to Canada’s job market?

In times of low unemployment, employers’ demand for workers typically exceeds the supply — in Canada, that has resulted in the high number of job vacancies we see today. In such a tight labour market, employers typically need to pay higher wages to attract employees, ultimately leading to rising wage inflation.

RBC, among others, is predicting that Central Bank strategies today, which focus on increasing interest rates to cool inflation, will result in a higher unemployment rate in 2023. In turn, we can expect this to result in a slower pace of wage inflation. That might sound negative for workers and newcomers, but the pace of inflation in living costs should also slow down, stagnate, or even decrease as the overheating economy cools off.

Expert resources to help immigrants get jobs in Canada

Canada’s job market provides a wealth of opportunity for newcomers, but it is only that — an opportunity.

To take full advantage, recent and prospective immigrants can leverage free government-funded resources and programs. We recently partnered with Canada InfoNet, a government-funded pre-arrival employment support program, to bring you two expert guides on transitioning to a career in Canada:

How to take advantage in Canada’s job market

The Moving2Canada team has added a new feature for people who want to get a job in Canada or accelerate their career here. Readers can now opt in to hear from recruiters and employers we partner with and upload a resume to their account, all for free.

We’re excited to help more newcomers and people wishing to move to Canada in their career goals.

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How to get a job in Canada

We at Moving2Canada have been flooded with inquiries from people who recently moved to Canada, or who have been laid off, or whose plans to move to Canada in the near future have been affected by the pandemic.

Despite the public health crisis and economic downturn, and the anxiety and confusion that may result, now is a good time to make sure you are well positioned to take advantage when Canada’s economy recovers.

Here’s a popular webinar from recruitment expert and Moving2Canada founder, Ruairi Spillane, about how to create the best resume for the Canadian jobs market:

New and improved Jobs Board

We have worked hard over recent weeks to ramp up the number and range of job postings on our Jobs Board.

Don’t forget to complete or update your Moving2Canada profile to hear about job opportunities in your industry in Canada!

Want to dig deeper into the Canada Jobs Report data? Try these interactive tools, courtesy of StatsCan.

Let your job search soar with Moving2Canada's help

Create a Moving2Canada account to get job postings, advice, and a copy of our FREE Getting Started Guide!

Do you have health insurance for Canada?

Many newcomers are not eligible for Canadian healthcare coverage when they first arrive.

Our partner, Cigna, offers newcomers a range of comprehensive health insurance policies for peace of mind. Explore your options with a free quote today!