Immigrants are increasingly likely to land jobs and better pay than they did in the past but still lag behind the rest of the Canadian population when it comes to employment and income, reveals a Statistics Canada report.

“Since the early 2010s, recent immigrants in the 25 to 54 age group have seen a faster growth in employment rates, compared with their Canadian-born counterparts … (and) … recent immigrants have also experienced faster earnings growth compared with Canadian-born workers since the mid-2010s,” reports the statistical and demographic services agency.

In The Improvement In The Labour Market Outcomes Of Recent Immigrants Since The Mid-2010s, Statistics Canada’s Feng Hou notes there was a 10.7 percentage point jump in the employment rate of recent immigrants from 2010 to 2023.

During that period, the employment rate of the Canadian-born population rose by only 4.1 per cent.

“Consequently, the employment rate gap between the two groups narrowed from 13.1 percentage points in 2010 to 6.5 percentage points in 2023,” wrote Hou.

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“In line with the rise in employment rates, the unemployment rate also declined among recent immigrants in the 25 to 54 age group, from 12.1 per cent in 2010 to 6.2 per cent in 2022 and 6.6 per cent in 2023.”

With that drop in the unemployment rate for recent immigrants, the gap in the unemployment rate between recent immigrants and Canadian-born workers narrowed from 5.7 percentage points in 2010 to 2.6 percentage points in 2023.

Immigrants are now closer to enjoying income parity with other Canadians.

“The gap in weekly earnings between recent immigrants and Canadian-born workers decreased from 19.9 per cent in 2015 to 13.4 per cent in 2020 among men and from 20.4 per cent to 15.5 per cent among women,” notes the report.

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Although recent immigrants still earn significantly less than Canadian-born workers, the recent trend marks a departure from the long-standing pattern of stagnation in the relative earnings of recent immigrant men and the worsening trend in the relative earnings of recent immigrant women from 2000 to 2015.

“With similar socioeconomic characteristics, recent immigrant men earned 16.7 per cent less than their Canadian-born counterparts in 2000 and 17.3 per cent less in 2015,” notes the report.

“Likewise, recent immigrant women earned 22.1 per cent less than Canadian-born women in 2000 and 25.4 per cent less in 2015. Thanks to the recent improvements, the earnings gap for recent immigrants in 2020 was the narrowest in the past two decades.”

In his report, Hou is less certain this trend will continue much longer as the rate of arrival of new workers through permanent and temporary immigration programs seems likely to outstrip job growth in the near future.

Trend Of Improving Outcomes For Immigrants May Change As Immigration Levels Climb

“The dynamics of labour supply and demand are poised to change,” Hou advises.

When Canada welcomed an average of 276,000 new immigrants annually from 2010 to 2019, adding a minimum of 148,000 people to the labour supply each year, the number of employed temporary residents was also rising from 14,000 in 2011 to 108,000 by 2019.

All of those extra workers were more easily able to find jobs during that time because Canada was then also seeing annual employment increase by an average of 234,000 from 2010 to 2019.

“Hence, the annual rise in labour supply from new immigrants and temporary residents generally remained below the total employment growth in the economy throughout the 2010s. The residual growth was absorbed by the Canadian-born population and longer-term immigrants,” notes Hou.

That’s expected to change in the coming years.

“The planned level of immigration increases from 465,000 in 2023 to 500,000 in 2025, an increase of about 80 per cent compared with the average level in the 2010s,” notes Hou.

“Additionally, the admission of temporary foreign workers and international students has also increased considerably in recent years.”

In his report, Hou admits it is unclear whether the Canadian economy will generate sufficient employment opportunities to accommodate the expected increase in labour supply from new immigrants and temporary foreign workers.

“Another layer of uncertainty is how artificial intelligence will affect net job creation in the years to come,” he notes.

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