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Youth enjoy record high employment in March

A record high number of youth employment in March 2021 compared to the previous March comes as franchise owner Soul Foods Group prepares to open its new combined KFC and Starbucks restaurants in Yellowknife in May. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

Youth aged 15 to 24 saw their employment rate rise by 19.2 per cent in March 2021 compared to March 2020, a record high for March among that group.

The rise amounted to a job rate for youth reaching 55.6 per cent in March, according to the Labour Force Survey released Friday by the NWT Bureau of Statistics.

The data on youth employment in March comes just days after a spokesperson for Soul Foods Group, the franchise owner of the new KFC and Starbucks locations opening in Yellowknife, said it had recruited more than 100 workers for the restaurants. Those two businesses are expected to open during the first week of May.

Job rate continues to rise

The job gains among youth are part of an ongoing trend, in which the job rate in March reached 67.4 per cent, climbing above the rates of 2021 thus far and higher than the rates seen in the months before the pandemic.

The overall rate was also the highest for March since 2016, and 2.6 per cent higher than in March 2020, when Covid-19 restrictions began.

Employment rates increased year over year for youth, women, Indigenous people and residents living outside of Yellowknife, according to the Labour Force Survey for March, released by the NWT Bureau of Statistics.

Data for March also show the trend of rising employment among women and Indigenous peoples continues compared to March 2020.

The job rate for women in March 2020 was at 64.6 per cent and grew to 70.3 per cent in March 2021. It was unchanged for men comparing March to March, sitting at 64.9 per cent.

For Indigenous people, it rose to 54.8 in March 2021 from 47.1 in March 2020.

“For persons living outside of Yellowknife, last month’s employment rate was the highest since October 2016,” the report stated, with the rate for March 2020 at 53.7, rising to 61.5 per cent in March 2021.

Year over year, those increases amounted to employment climbing by 1,000 people to 24,500 in March.

Employment by type and industry

Part-time employment grew to 3,200 workers from 2,100 in March compared to the year before. Full-time numbers fell by 100 people to 19,800 for March 2021, the report said.

Annual increases were also registered in self-employment, with such jobs rising to 2,100 from 1,900 in March; and public sector employment, where jobs rose to 10,700 from 10,000 in March 2021.

Private sector employment was unchanged compared to 12 months ago, sitting at 10,100 jobs.

However, job rates in the public and private sectors have been moving in opposite directions since December 2020.

Public sector employment decreased its to current level from 11,000 jobs in December; and private sector job numbers rose from 9,400 in that month.

Employment increased most in public administration; health care and social assistance; and in business, building and other support services.

Declines were noted in manufacturing; information, culture and recreation; trade; educational services; and in accommodation and food services.

Across Canada, the employment rate was 58.4 per cent for March, the same as for February.