Unemployment Rate Trends

Unemployment rate measures the share of the labour force that is unable to find employment. The labour force comprises the working-age population that is either working or unemployed and actively seeking work.

High rates indicate an economy operating at less than capacity and, if persistent, can lead to poverty and social instability. There is a potential for accelerating economic growth without accelerating inflation. Causes can include an inflexible labour market failing to adapt to structural change and to growth, loss of competitiveness and the business cycle.

Winnipeg’s economy operated at a high capacity and stable rate. In 2012, Winnipeg’s unemployment rate was the fifth lowest of all the major centres in Canada. Regina had the lowest rate at 4.1 per cent. From 2002 to 2012, Winnipeg’s unemployment rate remained unchanged, with an increase of only 0.3 percentage points. Winnipeg’s rate of change was also consistently lower than those among all the major centres (by 0.5 percentage points on average).

Unemployment Rate: Winnipeg and CMA Average (2002 to 2012)

Youth Unemployment Rate Trends

The issue of youth unemployment has rekindled significant unease with different levels of government, communities and the general public. In addition to the most common consequences of unemployment, such as financial hardship and emotional distress, joblessness may also result in the erosion of an individual’s skills and knowledge, and increase uncertainty of future labour market prospects. For jobless youth, this aspect of unemployment may particularly be ‘scarring,’ as skills and knowledge gained through the educational system may not have appropriate opportunity to crystalize into professional ability. At the aggregated economic level, such an erosion of skills may disadvantage businesses in their ability to expand and compete—particularly in an environment of increasing global competition.

The unemployment rate for Winnipeggers aged 15 to 24 was 11.4 per cent in 2012, the fourth-lowest among the major metropolitan areas in Canada. Over the past 10 years, it increased by 1.1 percentage points, the third-highest rate increase among the major cities. This rise in the youth unemployment rate signals an increasing loss of wages due to fewer people working and wage scarring (the persistence of low wages).  Increasing numbers of youth who are neither pursuing an education nor working can indicate broader systemic issues that prevent youth from fully participating in society as they age.

Youth Unemployment Rate – Ages 15 to 24 Years: Winnipeg and Canada (2002 to 2012)